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            1              SCRANTON CITY COUNCIL MEETING

 

            2

 

            3

 

            4

 

            5                          HELD:

 

            6

 

            7                   Tuesday, March 24, 2009

 

            8

 

            9                        LOCATION:

 

           10                    Council Chambers

 

           11                 Scranton City Hall

 

           12              340 North Washington Avenue

 

           13                Scranton, Pennsylvania

 

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           23

                    CATHENE S. NARDOZZI, RPR - OFFICIAL COURT REPORTER

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            1

 

            2   CITY OF SCRANTON COUNCIL:

 

            3

 

            4

                MR. ROBERT MCGOFF, PRESIDENT

            5

 

            6   MS. JUDY GATELLI, VICE-PRESIDENT

 

            7

                MS. JANET E. EVANS

            8

 

            9   MS. SHERRY FANUCCI

 

           10

                MR. WILLIAM COURTRIGHT

           11

 

           12   MS. KAY GARVEY, CITY CLERK

 

           13

                MR. NEIL COOLICAN, ASSISTANT CITY CLERK

           14

 

           15   MR. JOHN WILLIAMS, SOLICITOR

 

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            1                      (Pledge of Allegiance recited and

 

            2              moment of reflection observed.)

 

            3                      MR. MCGOFF:  Roll call, please?

 

            4                      MR. COOLICAN:  Mrs. Evans.

 

            5                      MS. EVANS:  Here.

 

            6                      MR. COOLICAN:  Mrs. Gatelli.

 

            7                      MS. GATELLI:  Here.

 

            8                      MR. COOLICAN:  Ms. Fanucci.

 

            9                      MS. FANUCCI:  Here.

 

           10                      MR. COOLICAN:  Mr. Courtright.

 

           11                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  Here.

 

           12                      MR. COOLICAN:  Mr. McGoff.

 

           13                      MR. MCGOFF:  Here.  Dispense with

 

           14              the reading of the minutes.  Third Order,

 

           15              please.

 

           16                      MS. GARVEY: 3-A.  MINUTES OF THE

 

           17              COMPOSITE PENSION BOARD MEETING HELD ON

 

           18              FEBRUARY 25, 2009.

 

           19                      MR. MCGOFF: Are there any comments?

 

           20              If not, received and filed.

 

           21                      MS. GARVEY: 3-B.  CONTROLLER'S

 

           22              REPORT FOR THE MONTH ENDING FEBRUARY 28,

 

           23              2009.

 

           24                      MR. MCGOFF: Are there any comments?

 

           25              If not, received and filed.


 

 

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            1                      MS. GARVEY:  3-C. AGENDA FOR THE

 

            2              CITY PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING HELD ON

 

            3              MARCH 18, 2009.

 

            4                      MR. MCGOFF:  Are there any comments?

 

            5              If not, received and filed.

 

            6                      MS. GARVEY: That's it for Third

 

            7              Order.

 

            8                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you.  In caucus

 

            9              Mr. Renda had spoken to us about the audit

 

           10              or investigation done at the Single Tax

 

           11              Office and the report that many of you had

 

           12              read about and perhaps seen on the website,

 

           13              I noticed that Mr. McGovern and

 

           14              Mrs. Vitali-Flynn are here this evening.

 

           15              I'd like to, you know, suspend the rules at

 

           16              this point in time and allow them to speak

 

           17              and to answer any questions that council may

 

           18              have, and also make it a note that Mr. Renda

 

           19              is in council chambers as well.  Pleas.

 

           20                      MS. VITALI-FLYNN: Good evening,

 

           21              Council, taxpayers.  My name is Marilyn

 

           22              Vitali-Flynn.  I am the tax collector for

 

           23              the City of Scranton.  I'm here tonight to

 

           24              shed some light on the forensic

 

           25              investigative report that was recently


 

 

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            1              discussed in the press.  With me is

 

            2              Solicitor John McGovern who will help answer

 

            3              questions regarding the report, but before

 

            4              John takes questions I would like to say

 

            5              that since I have been appointed tax

 

            6              collector I have been working hard to

 

            7              implement some major changes to help address

 

            8              the systematic and long-term problems that

 

            9              have plagued the tax office for decades.

 

           10              Some of these changes are broad in scope,

 

           11              while others are simple changes in work flow

 

           12              and checks and balances.

 

           13                      During this challenging economy,

 

           14              keeping Scranton on solid financial ground

 

           15              is more important than ever.  I'm proud to

 

           16              say that the tax collection office is

 

           17              operating with much greater efficiency.

 

           18              From the times are doors open in the morning

 

           19              until we close at the end of the business

 

           20              day, my staff and I are working to maximize

 

           21              tax revenue.  As a result, we have seen the

 

           22              following revenue increases:

 

           23                      Earned income tax revenue has

 

           24              increased 16.5 percent.  Real estate tax

 

           25              revenue has increased 8.5 percent.  The


 

 

                                                                       6

 

 

            1              business privilege tax has increased

 

            2              6.6 percent.  Even though the local service

 

            3              tax had been reduced by 37.9 percent, the

 

            4              total increase in yearly revenue collected

 

            5              by the office totals $4.7 million.

 

            6                      On a monthly basis we now report to

 

            7              the city, the county, the school district

 

            8              and Scranton City Council.  We have

 

            9              requested for a controller to be put in

 

           10              place that we believe will help to continue

 

           11              these drastic improvements and are asking

 

           12              for the assistance of you, city council.

 

           13                      To sum up, our office is open and

 

           14              dedicated to serving you.  I or my staff

 

           15              would be happy to answer any questions that

 

           16              concerned citizens may have.  Thank you.

 

           17              And now John will take it from there if you

 

           18              have questions.

 

           19                      MR. MCGOVERN: Good evening, Council.

 

           20              My name is John McGovern, I'm the solicitor

 

           21              for the Single Tax Office.  I'm here tonight

 

           22              to really talk about probably the two

 

           23              primary issues that I'm sure the citizens

 

           24              are concerned about.  The first issue is the

 

           25              fact that the city had budgeted $5.5 million


 

 

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            1              and if you attempt to read the report, of

 

            2              course, no where in there do you see

 

            3              $5.5 million.  I would like to make it

 

            4              clear, obviously, we were not part of the

 

            5              caucus so I don't know what to be place with

 

            6              Mr. Renda, but just to update everybody on

 

            7              where we stand at this point, as I said, the

 

            8              city had budgeted $5.5 million.  If read the

 

            9              report you don't see that number.  However,

 

           10              if you really got in the report and looked

 

           11              at the details, on page 11 of the appendix

 

           12              it talks about interest.  The interest is

 

           13              for 2007 and prior plus 2008 which has not

 

           14              been distributed.  The city's share

 

           15              according to the report is $1,052.000.00,

 

           16              $1,052,393.00.

 

           17                      Second, when you read the report it

 

           18              talks about 888 Funds and 233 Funds.  Those

 

           19              funds are for intensive purposes when an

 

           20              individual who is not a city resident works

 

           21              at the -- noncity residents that work within

 

           22              the city if they are local municipality does

 

           23              not have a tax, a 1 percent tax, then the

 

           24              city is under the law entitled to that

 

           25              money.


 

 

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            1                      Over the last three years since the

 

            2              implementation of the new computer system

 

            3              that money was never distributed.  According

 

            4              to the report, that money totaled

 

            5              $2,446,000.00 and some change.

 

            6                      Now, as far as that money

 

            7              specifically, the office already has

 

            8              individuals confirming the codes that are in

 

            9              basically the computer system.  The problem

 

           10              was that the system held the money there and

 

           11              waited for somebody to do something with it.

 

           12              It never got done.  At this point, as I

 

           13              said, those codes are being confirmed if.

 

           14              If the codes are correct then the funds will

 

           15              go to the city.  If the codes are incorrect

 

           16              because it should have been Abington Heights

 

           17              or something like that the money will go

 

           18              there.

 

           19                      Now, what's important with this

 

           20              money is that it's not going to be

 

           21              distributed in we are just going to deliver

 

           22              a check for hypothetically $2,000,000 and

 

           23              say, "Here is your 888 funds."  When the

 

           24              usual distribution process takes place it

 

           25              will now be included in those funds so the


 

 

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            1              city won't get a check that's labeled "Here

 

            2              is your 888 funds," it will be included as

 

            3              part of the regular distribution process.

 

            4                      MS. GATELLI: Will you be able to

 

            5              segregate that so we will know that it's the

 

            6              old money coming back?

 

            7                      MR. MCGOFF: Well actually the

 

            8              $2.4 million is just from the year 2005

 

            9              through 2008 at this point.  So, when you

 

           10              say old money, there is two sets of old

 

           11              money.  There is a prior '05 money, which

 

           12              I'll discuss in a few seconds, and then post

 

           13              '05 money, but when it comes through we will

 

           14              try to label it so that it's identified so

 

           15              when Stu gets the funds he knows where it's

 

           16              coming from but it won't, as I said, it

 

           17              won't just be when you show up with one big

 

           18              check and say, "Here you go."

 

           19                      It will be actually part of a

 

           20              process because it's going to take time for

 

           21              people to go through the system to check

 

           22              those codes to confirm first that they are

 

           23              correct or not.

 

           24                      MS. EVANS: So if I'm hearing you

 

           25              correctly it will be part of our monthly


 

 

                                                                      10

 

 

            1              dispersement?

 

            2                      MR. MCGOFF: Yes.  Yes.  No you,

 

            3              according to the report they had identified

 

            4              $4,489,000.00 as what they call available

 

            5              funds basically.  As I just discussed, the

 

            6              city is talking about 1.52 million in

 

            7              interest, potentially 2.4 million in 888

 

            8              funds and that leaves a balance of

 

            9              $991,000.00 if you just do the simple math

 

           10              in the report.

 

           11                      Now, that $991,000.00 is basically,

 

           12              identified as pre 2005 money.  What the

 

           13              belief is that the same errors that were

 

           14              occurring in '05, '06, '07 were occurring

 

           15              prior to that period.  The auditors

 

           16              identified all of the way back to 1999 as

 

           17              when this process or this problem in the

 

           18              process started, so in theory again, the

 

           19              city may be entitled to some of this

 

           20              $991,000.00, so just on my math alone one,

 

           21              two and a half, three and a half, so we are

 

           22              really looking at about the city potentially

 

           23              at the high end of this out of these funds

 

           24              could get about 4 to 4 1/2 million dollars,

 

           25              at the low end it could be in the


 

 

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            1              three million dollar range.  The exact

 

            2              totals will just, to be honest with you, we

 

            3              will never know because, as I said, once the

 

            4              system starts getting fixed and the codes

 

            5              get fixed it's just going to start flowing

 

            6              out on it's own.

 

            7                      Now, where the city is also going to

 

            8              benefit from this is that this mistake

 

            9              should not occur again.  It's obviously been

 

           10              identified, it's been a problem for many,

 

           11              many years, unfortunately it was known by

 

           12              some people, but it was never dealt with.

 

           13                      Now, with that being said, since it

 

           14              should not occur again as they funds are

 

           15              being accumulated throughout the year they

 

           16              should start being dispersed at that point,

 

           17              so what we are talking about here is

 

           18              millions of dollars over two or three years,

 

           19              well, if it's being handled when it's

 

           20              supposed to in theory the city will see

 

           21              thousands every month.  Exactly what the

 

           22              number is it's only going to based upon what

 

           23              the collections are and handling of this,

 

           24              but what will not happen again is that it

 

           25              will not be allowed to just continue to grow


 

 

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            1              and grow and grow up until the point that

 

            2              it's in the millions and millions of

 

            3              dollars.

 

            4                      Now, that I believe at least

 

            5              addresses the issue of the $5.5 million

 

            6              question versus what does the report

 

            7              actually say the city is going to get unless

 

            8              somebody has a specific question that they

 

            9              want to ask on that?

 

           10                      MS. FANUCCI: Stu, do you?

 

           11                      MR. RENDA: John, what about the --

 

           12              in the work in progress, we talked about the

 

           13              12 million, we segregated the seven and the

 

           14              49, in the $7 million we talk about

 

           15              nonresident wage tax --

 

           16                      MR. MCGOVERN: Correct.

 

           17                      MR. RENDA: -- of 2.9, could you just

 

           18              address that for us?  Is that -- is a piece

 

           19              of that the 888 money or does it belong to

 

           20              other municipalities?

 

           21                      MR. MCGOFF: That's exactly what I'm

 

           22              talking about that we won't know on an

 

           23              ongoing basis, it will just be a matter of

 

           24              the city getting it.  Once those funds start

 

           25              to be coded properly and claims are made


 

 

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            1              against, basically what it works out to is a

 

            2              default, the city is the default.  When it

 

            3              doesn't have to go anywhere else and we

 

            4              don't have any evidence that it's supposed

 

            5              to go anywhere else it goes to the city, so

 

            6              included in that number is some additional

 

            7              888 money or 233 money, I just can't tell

 

            8              you exactly what the number is at this

 

            9              point, but what happens is you have to keep

 

           10              in mind what the nonresidents, the way the

 

           11              process works is that tax office collects

 

           12              the money during the year, they get payment

 

           13              from the employers, they get estimated

 

           14              payments in April, in June and September and

 

           15              then in January, we don't get to the W-2's

 

           16              until January or February.  It's when those

 

           17              W-2's come in that we are then getting the

 

           18              exact information to code the money to send

 

           19              it where it's supposed to go, so that two

 

           20              point some million dollars which was there

 

           21              at the end of '08 we are now getting that

 

           22              information and it's now being put into the

 

           23              system and coded, so the money is already

 

           24              going where it's supposed to, but some of

 

           25              that, yes, will end up being 888 money or


 

 

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            1              233 money and at some point as the

 

            2              distribution process takes over the city

 

            3              will say a share of that.

 

            4                      So ultimately, as I was saying

 

            5              earlier, instead of the tax office holding

 

            6              hundreds off thousands of dollars every year

 

            7              that was the city's money, that money should

 

            8              just start going out every year.  So the

 

            9              city should see a benefit in those funds

 

           10              during this calendar year.

 

           11                      MS. FANUCCI: John, you obviously

 

           12              know more than we do about this situation,

 

           13              but are you satisfied with what came back

 

           14              now, like, your understanding exactly where

 

           15              we are because it seems to me there is so

 

           16              many questions.  I feel like we actually

 

           17              lost out and we don't understand worse than

 

           18              when we did when we first started this.

 

           19                      MR. MCGOFF: Right.  I agree.

 

           20              Everybody expected that on Friday there was

 

           21              going to be a letter or something.

 

           22                      MS. FANUCCI: Yeah, really we did.

 

           23              We expected to know.

 

           24                      MR. MCGOFF: That the city gets

 

           25              actually "Y", and unfortunately because of


 

 

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            1              the way the computer system is setup it

 

            2              doesn't work that way.  The only thing I can

 

            3              really add about this process is when the

 

            4              report came out, and it just is background,

 

            5              I am a CPA, also, and I do a lot of tax

 

            6              work, so at least I have a background in

 

            7              this, my concern as I was reading it, which

 

            8              is the next issue that I'll get to, which is

 

            9              when you do the simple math, and this goes

 

           10              to the headline in the newspaper, "City Tax

 

           11              Office missing $2 million," you don't have

 

           12              to have an accounting background to sit

 

           13              there and do the math and say, "We are

 

           14              missing money, where is that money?"

 

           15                      So I did, as this process went along

 

           16              and this information was slowly being fed to

 

           17              us, you know, we were looking at it and we

 

           18              were asking questions.  I was going back to

 

           19              the tax office employees, and I was trying

 

           20              to just think the process through as it was

 

           21              going along and I was able at least from the

 

           22              report and from the information I received

 

           23              to have a comfort level in what I was being

 

           24              told, so I would say I was not -- in the end

 

           25              result I agreed with it in the end.


 

 

                                                                      16

 

 

            1                      Now, there is a lot of gray area in

 

            2              the end result and everything and, no, it's

 

            3              not, "Here is your share, here is your

 

            4              share, here is your share and let's move

 

            5              forward," because unfortunately that's not

 

            6              what's there.

 

            7                      Part of the presentation that the

 

            8              auditors did the other day, Mr. McGoff was

 

            9              there, what everybody misunderstands is that

 

           10              over the past ten years this office

 

           11              collected in excess of a billion dollars,

 

           12              with a "B".  You know, think about it.

 

           13              That's a lot of zeroes, and it's collecting

 

           14              that from taxpayers.  Me.  These people

 

           15              sitting out here.  Some of these people are

 

           16              paying $2, other people are paying thousands

 

           17              of dollars, there is literally thousands and

 

           18              thousands and thousands of records and

 

           19              entries and checks and money is just coming

 

           20              and going.  It's just literally to find a

 

           21              small thing it is the proverbial needle in a

 

           22              haystack.  It would be almost impossible to

 

           23              go back and say, we are looking for a $22

 

           24              that was paid to Mr. Smith during the year

 

           25              of 2007.  We are looking for one check in a


 

 

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            1              realm of quite possibly what could be close

 

            2              to 100 checks that year.  I mean, that's the

 

            3              type of activity that goes through here, so

 

            4              you have to keep that in mind.

 

            5                      I understand that millions of

 

            6              dollars is a lot of money, it's a lot of

 

            7              money to me, but if you look at in a

 

            8              perspective of a billion dollars, you know,

 

            9              a million dollars is less than 1/10th of 1

 

           10              percent or something like that?  You know,

 

           11              from an accounting standpoint that could be

 

           12              deemed immaterial.  Now, they tried to do

 

           13              everything that they could to document as

 

           14              much as possible and with the idea a million

 

           15              dollars is lot of money especially when a

 

           16              city is distressed like this, I understand

 

           17              that, but from my own standpoint in my

 

           18              opinion, it's just my opinion and my

 

           19              professional background, I was pretty

 

           20              satisfied with what came back.  I can't tell

 

           21              you that I'm absolutely happy in the results

 

           22              because as I'm going to discuss next it

 

           23              points out that there is some serious

 

           24              problems.

 

           25                      But, yes, I mean, the question the


 

 

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            1              the newspaper article says "Tax Office

 

            2              missing two million," now, I may not agree

 

            3              that the number was $2 million, but I can

 

            4              confirmatively state that, yes, there is

 

            5              money -- that 12.2 million dollars or

 

            6              12.3 million that they identified at the end

 

            7              the $12.3 million was there.  When we talk

 

            8              about money missing, it's not that some of

 

            9              that 12.3 million is missing, it's that the

 

           10              12.3 could have been 13.3 or 14.3 or some

 

           11              number in-between there.

 

           12                      MS. FANUCCI: Because there was no

 

           13              record of that at all?

 

           14                      MR. MCGOVERN:  No.  Now, this is --

 

           15              this is the more technical part, or like I

 

           16              refer to it the dirty little secret.  The

 

           17              scenario is that, yes, there is funds that

 

           18              are unaccounted for, unaccounted for not in

 

           19              the sense that somebody took the money and,

 

           20              you know, somebody is alleging that a crime

 

           21              took place, unaccounted for in an accounting

 

           22              standpoint going back to the fact that there

 

           23              was a billion dollars and hundreds of

 

           24              thousands of checks coming and going and

 

           25              back on forth.  It gets to a point where


 

 

                                                                      19

 

 

            1              when you start trying to look for something

 

            2              the time and effort yo find it just isn't

 

            3              worth it.  You wouldn't spend $100 to go

 

            4              find $5.  It just doesn't work.

 

            5                      Now, the big three issues identified

 

            6              on page 23 of the report, and I believe the

 

            7              -- or at least to quote the auditors, the

 

            8              paragraph that starts, "Not surprisingly,

 

            9              the sum," this goes back to, as I said,

 

           10              anybody doing some simple math.  If you read

 

           11              through the report you start keeping track

 

           12              of numbers you are going to realize that

 

           13              when we have 4.9 million dollars available

 

           14              at the end it's not -- it should be more.

 

           15              That's the issue.

 

           16                      Now, the problem with that four

 

           17              point -- or, I'm sorry, with the 4.9 not

 

           18              being enough, that some of the issues that

 

           19              that they have identified -- that the

 

           20              auditors had identified -- excuse me for a

 

           21              second, was a couple of issues, one being

 

           22              what they call double refunds.  There were

 

           23              instances over the last so many years where

 

           24              the tax office issued refunds, the same

 

           25              refund on two occasions to multiple


 

 

                                                                      20

 

 

            1              individuals, and in some cases when it took

 

            2              place it was many checks.  It wasn't just

 

            3              one check that accidently went out, it was

 

            4              string of checks, you know, 100 checks or

 

            5              200 checks that went out.  Now, the problem

 

            6              with that is you would have hoped that when

 

            7              the taxpayers had received it they would

 

            8              have said, "I got my --" I already got my

 

            9              $22, you sent me over another check.  "

 

           10                      Unfortunately, that didn't happen

 

           11              very often. Now, that happened on numerous

 

           12              occasions, but this is one of the situation

 

           13              where you go back and try to look for it, to

 

           14              start looking for $22 every time it's just

 

           15              not cost effective.

 

           16                      Now, the way that that happened was

 

           17              that they should have been using prenumbered

 

           18              checks.  I mean.  It's a standard accounting

 

           19              rule.  You get a checkbook.  It's got

 

           20              numbers on it, it's that's simple.  Not at

 

           21              the tax office over the last so many years.

 

           22              The computer assigned check numbers and, of

 

           23              course, there was no safety check in the

 

           24              computer system that wouldn't let you issue

 

           25              the same check number twice, so what would


 

 

                                                                      21

 

 

            1              happen is we go back now and try to start

 

            2              reconciling everything and we realize there

 

            3              were two checks number 10005, and you say,

 

            4              "Well, why?"  And then you find out they

 

            5              were the same people and they both went and

 

            6              they were both cashed.

 

            7                      Now, when we found those or if we

 

            8              find them, we obviously will now send a

 

            9              letter to the taxpayers saying, "You were

 

           10              paid twice, please send us back the money,"

 

           11              and we've tried and in some cases the

 

           12              taxpayers have sent the money in, but it's

 

           13              not a situation where we can just sit down

 

           14              and find all of these checks.  Once again,

 

           15              there is probably hundreds of thousands of

 

           16              checks, so it's only in doing their work

 

           17              where somebody calls in about a problem and

 

           18              then all of a sudden the tax office realized

 

           19              that issue was there and we can try to go

 

           20              about and get that money.

 

           21                      Now, again, that's part of the

 

           22              missing money.  If we sent two checks out

 

           23              for $50 we sent out $50 more than we should

 

           24              have.  Well, it wasn't that person's money,

 

           25              it had could come from somewhere, well, it


 

 

                                                                      22

 

 

            1              came from the city is where it came from.

 

            2                      The second issue that they have

 

            3              identified was what they call estimated tax

 

            4              payments being paid to other municipalities.

 

            5              There is a practice, as I explained, that we

 

            6              don't get the W-2's until the end of the

 

            7              year, but we are getting the money during

 

            8              the year.  What would happen is the office

 

            9              would send out estimated payments to outline

 

           10              municipalities because technically it's not

 

           11              fair that we hold their money all year and

 

           12              they have to wait until April to get one big

 

           13              check, so we would send out a quarterly

 

           14              payment almost like anybody that makes

 

           15              estimated tax payments.  They pay the

 

           16              government.

 

           17                      Well, what would happen on some

 

           18              occasions apparently, was the squeaky wheel

 

           19              got the grease.  If you called and

 

           20              complained enough you would get a check.

 

           21              The problem being that this check never made

 

           22              it to the people in the office that were

 

           23              supposed to be handling this to account for

 

           24              it, so we have situations where checks were

 

           25              sent out to outlying municipalities and it


 

 

                                                                      23

 

 

            1              was never recorded into the system.

 

            2                      Again, the problem now -- since I

 

            3              just said that I want to point out something

 

            4              very important here you have to understand,

 

            5              the computer system bank accounts and the

 

            6              bank statements were never reconciled.  I

 

            7              mean, does anybody here not -- somebody in

 

            8              your family not reconcile their checking

 

            9              account every month?  I men, it's standard

 

           10              practice.

 

           11                      MS. FANUCCI: So they were keeping

 

           12              two different books and books and plus the

 

           13              computer?

 

           14                      MR. MCGOFF: The computer was keeping

 

           15              one set of records and doing one thing and

 

           16              somebody else was keeping the bank

 

           17              statements and keeping another balance, and

 

           18              the auditors refer to that in the report, to

 

           19              the point that when they finally, went to

 

           20              even attempt to make a reconciliation the

 

           21              books were showing about two or three

 

           22              hundred thousands dollars more than what the

 

           23              bank statements were showing at that time.

 

           24                      MS. FANUCCI: Well, let's go with the

 

           25              books.


 

 

                                                                      24

 

 

            1                      MR. MCGOFF: Yeah.  Well,

 

            2              unfortunately, the money wasn't there.

 

            3                      Now, the last issue which is

 

            4              probably the most disappointing as a

 

            5              taxpayer and resident of Scranton is the

 

            6              most offending to me, is the fact that we

 

            7              have employers and taxpayers in this city

 

            8              that don't think that they have to pay taxes

 

            9              for some reason.  Now, the biggest example

 

           10              here is we have employers, some of which for

 

           11              the last ten years, have filed W-2's for

 

           12              their employees, given us the information,

 

           13              but just don't send us the money.

 

           14                      Now, the problem with that becomes

 

           15              if those employees work and/or live anywhere

 

           16              else, there was a policy implemented where

 

           17              just, again, to pick on Abington Heights, if

 

           18              the employee lived up there we would get the

 

           19              W-2, we would send money to Abington

 

           20              Heights, but we never got the money.  We

 

           21              never received it.  I mean, it's that simple

 

           22              so we are taking Scranton money and sending

 

           23              it away.  So the money I pay in is not going

 

           24              to the city, it's going somewhere else

 

           25              because we have a W-2.


 

 

                                                                      25

 

 

            1                      The disappointing part, as I said,

 

            2              apparently some people believe they don't

 

            3              have to pay taxes and there has been a

 

            4              culture around this city by some people over

 

            5              that time period.

 

            6                      Now, since Marilyn has taken over

 

            7              and I have been involved we have attempted

 

            8              to collect, start to collect this money, so

 

            9              this is another one of those issues where I

 

           10              can guarantee you there will be money coming

 

           11              in.  We will get some of this money back and

 

           12              when that money comes in it's only got one

 

           13              place to go, to the city's share, but I can

 

           14              tell you affirmatively I have filed some

 

           15              private criminal complaints against

 

           16              individual over the past few months, we have

 

           17              made referrals to the District Attorney's

 

           18              Office about this, it's my understanding at

 

           19              least right now that there is two arrest

 

           20              warrants out there for individuals that are

 

           21              these type of individuals and we are just

 

           22              trying to make it clear.

 

           23                      Believe me, we have given everybody

 

           24              an opportunity, letters, certified letters,

 

           25              phone calls, I don't take joy in threatening


 

 

                                                                      26

 

 

            1              to have people arrested but, you know, ten

 

            2              years.  Ten years you have been taking

 

            3              somebody else's money and not turning it

 

            4              over to where it was supposed to go.  If it

 

            5              was the IRS they would have had those people

 

            6              a long time ago and we would have been

 

            7              reading about them.  In Scranton it didn't

 

            8              work that way.  I don't know when the last

 

            9              time there was a private criminal complaint

 

           10              filed.  I don't know when the last time the

 

           11              DA arrested somebody for this.  All I know

 

           12              is that we are trying to get the message out

 

           13              there if you are one of these people and you

 

           14              get a letter you better respond because if

 

           15              you don't respond eventually somebody is

 

           16              going to show up at your door.

 

           17                      So that is probably the biggest

 

           18              chunk of this so-called missing money.

 

           19              There has to literally be, you know, a

 

           20              million dollars that's floating out there

 

           21              that is just funds that people just didn't

 

           22              pay.  Now, just to add one more part to

 

           23              that, just about this Scranton issue, these

 

           24              very same people I can guarantee you they

 

           25              paid the IRS and they paid the Department of


 

 

                                                                      27

 

 

            1              Revenue, they just didn't pay us, so0.

 

            2                      MS. GATELLI: Is that public record

 

            3              of who didn't pay?  Like I see today in the

 

            4              paper there is federal tax liens in it and

 

            5              it lists the people and what they owe.

 

            6                      MR. MCGOVERN:  That's our problem.

 

            7              In order to put a lien in the paper, I mean

 

            8              it has -- in order for something to become

 

            9              public record there is whole process it has

 

           10              to go through, so like I can't stand here

 

           11              and say, you know, here is list of people

 

           12              that just decide they are not going to do

 

           13              it.  The only way I can do that is to either

 

           14              go after them civilly or something criminal

 

           15              happened and once there is something

 

           16              criminal you could read the private criminal

 

           17              complaint, you could read the DA arrest

 

           18              warrant, that type of thing, so you can get

 

           19              the information that way, but until it

 

           20              happens -- now, keep in mind we have been

 

           21              there a year.  These things take time, so we

 

           22              are still at the beginning of this,

 

           23              unfortunately, there is no carry over from

 

           24              the previous whatever number of years.

 

           25              Again, I'm looking at people that haven't


 

 

                                                                      28

 

 

            1              paid for ten years and saying how could this

 

            2              go on, how can --

 

            3                      MS. EVANS: People who are city

 

            4              residents who worked outside of the city?

 

            5                      MR. MCGOFF: That's a whole -- that's

 

            6              a whole another -- that's a whole other

 

            7              argument.

 

            8                      MS. EVANS: Oh, the businesses who

 

            9              have had --

 

           10                      MR. MCGOFF: I'm specifically talking

 

           11              about businesses within the city who are

 

           12              withholding money from their employees --

 

           13                      MS. EVANS: And kept the money.

 

           14                      MR. MCGOFF: And kept the money, yes.

 

           15                      MS. EVANS:  Rather than turning it

 

           16              over.

 

           17                      MR. MCGOFF: Yes.

 

           18                      MS. EVANS: Plus we also have, let's

 

           19              say, individuals who, as I said, would

 

           20              reside within the city, work outside of the

 

           21              city --

 

           22                      MR. MCGOFF: Yes.

 

           23                      MS. EVANS: -- and never paid wage

 

           24              taxes.

 

           25                      MR. MCGOFF: Correct.


 

 

                                                                      29

 

 

            1                      MS. EVANS: And as --

 

            2                      MR. MCGOFF: Some of which who have

 

            3              voted in this city, some of which have used

 

            4              a lot of other services of this city --

 

            5                      MS. EVANS: Yes.

 

            6                      MR. MCGOFF: -- but which claim they

 

            7              don't live here.

 

            8                      MS. EVANS: Yes.

 

            9                      MR. MCGOFF: And then we are aware of

 

           10              some of those people and I have attempted or

 

           11              are attempting to collect the money from

 

           12              those people --

 

           13                      MS. EVANS: And as for the people who

 

           14              would have received double or triple refunds

 

           15              are they being pursued legally?

 

           16                      MR. MCGOFF: If, in fact, we can

 

           17              identify them then, yes, the practice is to

 

           18              send them a letter.  Now, of course we have

 

           19              a situation where if it happened six years

 

           20              ago we may not be able to collect it because

 

           21              of statute of limitations issues and things

 

           22              like that.

 

           23                      MS. EVANS: Yes.

 

           24                      MR. MCGOFF: But if it's identified

 

           25              we are more than willing to try to -- to try


 

 

                                                                      30

 

 

            1              to recoup that money.

 

            2                      MS. EVANS:  And then my other

 

            3              concern though, and perhaps you were leading

 

            4              up to it, is the fact that allegedly the tax

 

            5              office was using tax monies, tax dollars, if

 

            6              you will, in their operating budget?  In

 

            7              other words, they exceeded their operating

 

            8              budget and were using tax dollars to

 

            9              supplement, let's say, what they needed for

 

           10              their operations?

 

           11                      MR. MCGOFF: Correct.

 

           12                      MS. EVANS: And what will be done

 

           13              about that?

 

           14                      MR. MCGOFF: Well, there is an

 

           15              exhibit in the back -- in the, I believe

 

           16              it's -- not the appendix, but the exhibits

 

           17              in which it shows the thing -- the one thing

 

           18              I would like to point out to that if you

 

           19              look at the years 2008 is of all of the

 

           20              years it just explodes.  Now, my position on

 

           21              that is because of transparency.  Everything

 

           22              that is being spent is being put into that

 

           23              account.  The largest, just so you

 

           24              understand, the largest number one item is

 

           25              that computer system and the computer


 

 

                                                                      31

 

 

            1              maintenance company.  It's in the hundredes

 

            2              -- it's thousands upon thousands, and when I

 

            3              say thousands not one or two thousand it is?

 

            4                      MS. VITALI-FLYNN: $30,000 a month.

 

            5                      MR. MCGOFF: $30,000 here, $40,000

 

            6              there.  If we are spending that kind of

 

            7              money on the computer system now how is that

 

            8              it -- where did it come from?  You know,

 

            9              where was it in the prior year?  So there

 

           10              was a concern from the auditors that the

 

           11              prior years that the funds were put

 

           12              somewhere else.  In other words, the checks

 

           13              were recorded somewhere else so that they

 

           14              are not on above the line basically.  So I

 

           15              will say, yes, the last year there I think

 

           16              it was $180,000 over budget last year is

 

           17              what it was.  When you really get into those

 

           18              numbers you are going to find out that the

 

           19              largest majority of that number is the

 

           20              computers.  If we had to spend that kind of

 

           21              money on a computer system last year, and my

 

           22              understanding is nothing changed adverse to

 

           23              the prior years then where are those --

 

           24              where is the line item on those?

 

           25                      So one of the other items just to


 

 

                                                                      32

 

 

            1              keep in mind, too, is we sent out 90,000

 

            2              property tax bills a year, plus the S-1's

 

            3              and the A-1's, they cost money, so I believe

 

            4              those bills collectively are 60, 70,000

 

            5              dollars, so if you look at the universe and

 

            6              say, hey, your operating budget is $280,000,

 

            7              if we are spending 80 on sending out bills,

 

            8              the property tax bills and all of that kind

 

            9              of stuff, and we are spending between 150 to

 

           10              200,000 dollars on the computer system there

 

           11              is not much left in budget, so anything

 

           12              else, legal fees I think there were 16

 

           13              grievances that we had to deal with when we

 

           14              took over, there were legal bills that kept

 

           15              coming in for those, so if you were to go

 

           16              back and start looking, again, this is the

 

           17              issue of trying to find it, if you can find

 

           18              it and it was recategorized then, yes, we

 

           19              believe those numbers would change in the

 

           20              prior years, but I can only say look at '08

 

           21              and as far as I'm concerned or as far I'm

 

           22              aware I believe everything that should have

 

           23              been on that line was on that line, and all

 

           24              of a sudden we are 100 and some thousand

 

           25              dollars over budget, so something took place


 

 

                                                                      33

 

 

            1              in the early years.

 

            2                      Now, to answer your questions is

 

            3              there anything we can do with that, I don't

 

            4              know where you get the money from.  It's,

 

            5              you know, the tax office.  It's not like

 

            6              they're a taxpayer and you can say give us

 

            7              back our money.  I understand the city can

 

            8              attempt to say "give us back our money," but

 

            9              the way the process works the city pays half

 

           10              the wages --

 

           11                      MS. EVANS: The school district.

 

           12                      MR. MCGOFF: The school district pays

 

           13              half, the city pays a good portion of the

 

           14              operating budget to 280, the school

 

           15              district, the county pays for the building

 

           16              and stuff like that, so if we're over budget

 

           17              the answer should have been we should have

 

           18              just came and said, hey, we need another

 

           19              $50,000 from each of you because this is

 

           20              where the numbers are, but I would imagine

 

           21              that this is probably the first time that

 

           22              you are being told that the computer system

 

           23              cost $150, $200,000 a year to operate alone.

 

           24                      MS. FANUCCI:  And then continue the

 

           25              problem.


 

 

                                                                      34

 

 

            1                      MR. MCGOVERN: Yes.

 

            2                      MS. FANUCCI: After it got there it

 

            3              didn't straighten anything out.

 

            4                      MR. MCGOFF: Two very quick

 

            5              questions, do we continue to use the

 

            6              commingled account?

 

            7                      MR. MCGOVERN: At this point we have

 

            8              absolutely -- that -- just so everybody

 

            9              understands, there was 17 bank accounts in

 

           10              this office at the end of 2004.  The money

 

           11              would come in and it would be put into a

 

           12              segregated account.  In the beginning of '05

 

           13              it was all dumped into one account which

 

           14              caused this issue of not being able to find

 

           15              anything or to identify anything because

 

           16              there was just too much going on in the one

 

           17              account.

 

           18                      MS. EVANS: Why did it occur though,

 

           19              was that a human decision, is that something

 

           20              that was tied into the computer system, how

 

           21              does one go from what seems reasonable to

 

           22              have 17 accounts to the merger of so many to

 

           23              a point where nothing is distinguishable?

 

           24                      MR. MCGOVERN: There was a consultant

 

           25              report that was prepared before the computer


 

 

                                                                      35

 

 

            1              system that went into effect and I believe

 

            2              that's where the proposal came and then it

 

            3              was just put into place and the computer

 

            4              system was put into place.  The problem is

 

            5              the auditor said great idea, poor

 

            6              implementation is what happened.

 

            7                      Now, to answer Mr. McGoff's question

 

            8              can we get out of this, I think the one

 

            9              thing, and Marilyn had talked about we --

 

           10              excuse the use of a term we need a

 

           11              controller in the office, a tax professional

 

           12              -- I'm sorry, accounting professional.  Once

 

           13              that type of person is in place with this

 

           14              accounting system once they have a grasp of

 

           15              it the one thing at least immediately what

 

           16              we can do or should do is segregate the

 

           17              operating budget out of it because that

 

           18              should be -- that should never have been

 

           19              included in there and there should never

 

           20              have been a reason why taxpayer funds are

 

           21              being commingled with the tax office funds.

 

           22              That is something simple and that's

 

           23              relatively an easy thing to do once we have

 

           24              somebody there from an accounting

 

           25              perspective.


 

 

                                                                      36

 

 

            1                      MR. MCGOFF: Second question, do we

 

            2              continue to use the same computer program

 

            3              and do we intend to continue to use that

 

            4              into the future?

 

            5                      MR. MCGOVERN: At this point you

 

            6              spent a lot of money on it and it's -- to

 

            7              throw it away would be would probably be

 

            8              ashame.  The issue --

 

            9                      MR. MCGOFF: But if it doesn't work.

 

           10                      MR. MCGOVERN: Well, the issue has

 

           11              never been that the computer system hasn't

 

           12              worked the people aren't trained and one of

 

           13              the points that they make in that audit

 

           14              report is from day one when they accounts

 

           15              were set up there should have been two sets

 

           16              of entries, a "due to" on one side and "due

 

           17              from" on the other.  From day one when they

 

           18              set this thing up they forget to make the

 

           19              second set of entries which threw the books

 

           20              off $4 million on day one, so there

 

           21              immediately was a problem, and again, it's

 

           22              human error, it wasn't system error.  If

 

           23              somebody understood what they were doing

 

           24              then they would have been fine.

 

           25                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you.


 

 

                                                                      37

 

 

            1                      MS. EVANS: But let us say

 

            2              hypothetically successful implementation of

 

            3              the computer system will you continue to

 

            4              keep a hard copy as well or are you going to

 

            5              be solely reliant upon the computer program?

 

            6                      MR. MCGOVERN: When you say a hard

 

            7              copy, a hard copy of what?

 

            8                      MS. EVANS: Your records, your

 

            9              accounts, etcetera.

 

           10                      MR. MCGOVERN: Well, there always

 

           11              hard company ice of the bank statements.

 

           12              They are always there, again, the problem is

 

           13              they weren't being reconciled with the

 

           14              computer system.  There should always be

 

           15              hard copies of the W-2's, the tax returns,

 

           16              the checks, all of those things.  They are

 

           17              there, but again, in referencing the checks

 

           18              they come back in a box.  They don't come

 

           19              back in an envelope with a hundred in there,

 

           20              they come back in a box with thousands and

 

           21              thousands.  Unless you were really -- unless

 

           22              you knew you were doing you wouldn't have

 

           23              any idea what's there.  So those records are

 

           24              always available, the problem becomes trying

 

           25              to find what you are missing.


 

 

                                                                      38

 

 

            1                      It's just, again, we are looking at

 

            2              three and a half years to four years using

 

            3              this computer system now it's not like we

 

            4              had 30 days, and that's -- just to be quick,

 

            5              one of the other things is a lot of these

 

            6              problems that were occurring could have been

 

            7              discovered on a daily basis by running an

 

            8              exception report, but it just wasn't done

 

            9              so, instead of having five mistakes made the

 

           10              previous day that could have been fixed we

 

           11              have, you know, 15,000 for four years

 

           12              because nobody was ever looking at that

 

           13              problem.  They knew it was there, but nobody

 

           14              ever did anything about it.

 

           15                      MS. EVANS: Now, the city has

 

           16              allocated in the 2009 budget additional

 

           17              funds for an audit of the Single Tax Office

 

           18              that, as you know, should have been

 

           19              performed by law annually.

 

           20                      MR. MCGOVERN: Yes.

 

           21                      MS. EVANS: And, of course, it hasn't

 

           22              occurred, I'm not exactly sure why, but in

 

           23              an effort to resolve that situation council

 

           24              did provide funding for such.  Now, my

 

           25              question to you is at the point at which --


 

 

                                                                      39

 

 

            1              at this juncture, in other words, are we

 

            2              going to experience difficulty conducting,

 

            3              let us say, you know, an audit this year?

 

            4                      MR. MCGOFF: At this point in time

 

            5              any accountant that comes in there will not

 

            6              be able to perform a gap or a guess or any

 

            7              other kind of audit.  It just -- the records

 

            8              are still in that much disarray.  That's the

 

            9              point about an accounting professional.

 

           10              Ideally, if we can get somebody in there to

 

           11              start cleaning it up it gives them until the

 

           12              end of the year to get it cleaned up, so

 

           13              when an auditor comes in early next year

 

           14              they are able to look at the books and

 

           15              records, unlike Mr. Marks attempted to do

 

           16              for three years and kept saying, "There's a

 

           17              problem here, there's a problem here,

 

           18              there's a problem here," and it never

 

           19              changed.  If we can get those problems fixed

 

           20              in theory they should be able to come in and

 

           21              there would be something for them to audit

 

           22              at that point, but at this point there is

 

           23              nothing there for somebody to audit because

 

           24              the information on the computer system

 

           25              doesn't completely reflect what's actually


 

 

                                                                      40

 

 

            1              taking place.

 

            2                      MS. GATELLI:  Are you going to offer

 

            3              training for the employees?

 

            4                      MS. VITALI-FLYNN: We already started

 

            5              that.

 

            6                      MR. MCGOVERN:  Yeah.  Marilyn has

 

            7              just done that.  She has had a few of them

 

            8              to the computer classes with the computer

 

            9              company.  Obviously they are aware of some

 

           10              of these issues and as they are identified,

 

           11              and a lot of them were identified by the

 

           12              auditors when they were doing this

 

           13              investigation, they were putting fixes in

 

           14              place at that point, so they were already

 

           15              saying, "Hey, if you just do it this way you

 

           16              don't have this problem anymore."

 

           17                      So some of those fixes are in place,

 

           18              others will be in place and as we move

 

           19              forward, you know, hopefully at the end of

 

           20              this year this thing is in good enough shape

 

           21              that somebody can come in and render an

 

           22              opinion.

 

           23                      MS. EVANS: Was there no training

 

           24              offered in 2005?

 

           25                      MR. MCGOVERN: My upstanding it was


 

 

                                                                      41

 

 

            1              very limited.

 

            2                      MS. VITALI-FLYNN:  It was a one-day

 

            3              training.

 

            4                      MR. MCGOVERN: That's one of the

 

            5              other issues, employees that had worked for

 

            6              there for many, many years the new computer

 

            7              system comes in they were just absolutely

 

            8              frustrated and retired, that was it.  So the

 

            9              people that knew how things were supposed to

 

           10              be going once the computer system came in

 

           11              they just threw up their hands and said

 

           12              enough of this and they left.

 

           13                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you.  Any other

 

           14              questions?

 

           15                      MS. GATELLI: No, but I know some of

 

           16              us have some more questions.  I myself

 

           17              wasn't able to pull the report off of my

 

           18              computer, so I can only get bits and pieces

 

           19              of report and if we have other questions we

 

           20              may ask you to come back again.

 

           21                      MR. MCGOVERN:  Okay, and if somebody

 

           22              specifically has a question or a problem

 

           23              Marilyn is always available, I won't say I'm

 

           24              always available, but I will try to make

 

           25              myself available and we can hopefully


 

 

                                                                      42

 

 

            1              address some of the issues.

 

            2                      MS. EVANS: Will we then not receive

 

            3              the entirety of what is due to the city

 

            4              during the 2009 budget year?  In other

 

            5              words, this could be ongoing beyond 2009?

 

            6              I'm not talking become now our traditional

 

            7              distributions, I'm talking about these areas

 

            8              of the 888 account, the interest, etcetera.

 

            9                      MR. MCGOVERN: The goal would be that

 

           10              this is resolved during 2009 and then at the

 

           11              end of 2009 whatever money that would have

 

           12              accumulated in an 888 account or 233 account

 

           13              if it's not distributed at least it's

 

           14              identified so the city knows the next month

 

           15              that they are getting it, that type of

 

           16              thing, so ideally it could be much better

 

           17              reporting and ideally this money will be

 

           18              distributed sooner than later.  Like, the

 

           19              interest money should be any kind of

 

           20              question.  We have the numbers identified,

 

           21              you know, at some point there is going to be

 

           22              an interest check, so we don't desire to

 

           23              have this problem occur again.

 

           24                      MS. FANUCCI: Thank you.

 

           25                      MR. MCGOFF: I want to thank you for


 

 

                                                                      43

 

 

            1              coming tonight, Mrs. Vitali-Flynn and Mr.

 

            2              McGovern.  I appreciate your presence.

 

            3              Mr. Renda, thank you, also, and the

 

            4              information provided hopefully will help us

 

            5              in making decisions into the future, and

 

            6              again, if questions do arise they certainly

 

            7              we will send them to you and thank again.

 

            8              Have a good night.  Thank you.

 

            9                      MR. MCGOVERN: Have a good night.

 

           10              Thank you.

 

           11                      MS. VITALI-FLYNN: Thank you.

 

           12                      MR. MCGOFF: Any announcements from

 

           13              council?

 

           14                      MS. EVANS: Yes.  Please remember in

 

           15              your prayers all those who have died this

 

           16              past week, particularly Thomas F. Barrett,

 

           17              Sr., a retired lieutenant in the Scranton

 

           18              fire department whose son, Tom Barrett,

 

           19              recently retired from the city controller's

 

           20              office and all his dear family members and

 

           21              friends he leaves behind.

 

           22                      A bake sale and basket raffle will

 

           23              be held on Saturday, April 4, before and

 

           24              after the 4:00 mass and on Sunday, April 5,

 

           25              before and after the 11:00 mass at Saints


 

 

                                                                      44

 

 

            1              Peter and Paul Church Hall, 1309 West Locust

 

            2              Street in West Scranton.

 

            3                      And Fetching Grooming Salon on

 

            4              Boulevard Avenue in Greenridge will be

 

            5              offering Easter pet photos on Saturday,

 

            6              March 28 and Sunday March 29 from 1 to 4

 

            7              p.m. The 5 by 7 photo is $5 and other sizes

 

            8              will be available.  The photos will also be

 

            9              taken by request through this week as well

 

           10              as the following week.  Proceeds will be

 

           11              used to purchase canine oxygen masks for

 

           12              local fire departments.  The masks come in

 

           13              three sizes and fit various animals.  Each

 

           14              mask costs $50 and will be used for dogs

 

           15              caught in fires or rescue situations.

 

           16              Marilyn Reese, owner of Fetching Grooming

 

           17              Salon, hopes to fully equip the Scranton

 

           18              Fire Department which she says has only one

 

           19              such mask as well as other county fire

 

           20              departments.

 

           21                      Now, I know I have two dogs and from

 

           22              going to go door throughout the years in our

 

           23              city I know that countless city residents

 

           24              are dog owners and cat owners, and I'm sure

 

           25              that none of us wants to see any animal lost


 

 

                                                                      45

 

 

            1              to a fire, so please support this very

 

            2              worthy cause to protect all of our pets.

 

            3              And that's all.

 

            4                      MR. MCGOFF: Mrs. Gatelli?

 

            5                      MS. GATELLI: This is the final week

 

            6              for the Ryan Mihalchicz memorial pasta

 

            7              dinner announcement, it is Sunday the 29th

 

            8              from 1 to 8 at Novak's Food and Spirts on

 

            9              Boulevard Avenue.  Also this Sunday at St.

 

           10              Francis Church, which is my parish, from

 

           11              11:30 to 4:00 there will be a polenta and

 

           12              meatballs or rigatoni and meatballs and

 

           13              adults are $8.50 sponsored by the Altar and

 

           14              Rosary Society.

 

           15                      The West Side Invader Dugout Club is

 

           16              having a night at the races on Saturday

 

           17              April 18, at 7:00 at Keyser Valley Community

 

           18              Center.  You can purchase a horse and have

 

           19              some fun and the proceeds will benefit the

 

           20              West Scranton baseball team.

 

           21                      Also, friends of the Scranton

 

           22              Knight's football team are having a night at

 

           23              the races on the same night, April 18 at the

 

           24              Holy Rosary Center from 7 to 11 and theirs

 

           25              is for the football team of Scranton High


 

 

                                                                      46

 

 

            1              School.

 

            2                      Just a few other announcements:  The

 

            3              lights are fixed at the Spruce Street

 

            4              Complex.  The sink hole on West Market

 

            5              Street was investigated and it is a mine

 

            6              subsidence, so it will be fixed by the

 

            7              Office of Surface Mines in Wilkes-Barre and

 

            8              temporarily there is a metal plate over that

 

            9              opening.

 

           10                      On the week of April 16 the city

 

           11              will be sponsoring a spring clean up.  If

 

           12              there is any neighborhood associations that

 

           13              would like to get involved they can please

 

           14              contact me, and the one in South Side will

 

           15              be on April 18 and 19 and we are doing it as

 

           16              a sponsorship of the Earth Diday clean up,

 

           17              so anyone else, I believe that the North

 

           18              Scranton is doing it up at Rockwell Park on

 

           19              that particular week, but anyone else

 

           20              interested in doing a clean up with

 

           21              dumpsters please call me through the Office

 

           22              of City Council and we can make some

 

           23              arrangements with the DPW, and that's all I

 

           24              have.  Thank you.

 

           25                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Mr. McGoff, I ask


 

 

                                                                      47

 

 

            1              you to just give me a little leeway on this,

 

            2              we have seen in the paper in the last week

 

            3              or so and I have been inundated with calls

 

            4              and people coming up to me about fire

 

            5              stations, whether they will be closed, are

 

            6              we going to be moving engine companies, are

 

            7              we going to be moving trucks out, and not to

 

            8              take the side of administration, not to take

 

            9              the side of the firefighters, but to take

 

           10              the side of the residents, they are the ones

 

           11              that are going to affected by any changes,

 

           12              so I would ask if council would agree to

 

           13              this that we would send a letter to Director

 

           14              Hayes and ask him if he can give us the plan

 

           15              on what they plan on doing with the fire

 

           16              department, who is the architect of this

 

           17              plan, who is the designer, who is coming up

 

           18              with all of these moves and whoever that is

 

           19              what their qualifications are, were there

 

           20              any studies done?

 

           21                      MS. EVANS: Mr. Courtright, last week

 

           22              when you were absent we sent a letter to the

 

           23              mayor requesting that information.

 

           24                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Okay.

 

           25                      MS. EVANS: But we did not receive a


 

 

                                                                      48

 

 

            1              response from him.  That was sent to him I

 

            2              believe March 17.

 

            3                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  My thought is this

 

            4              if -- certainly if you are going to make any

 

            5              changes it's got to be closely looked at

 

            6              because, you know, one life lost is one too

 

            7              many.  I'm not saying that there could not

 

            8              be improvements, I'm sure there could be

 

            9              improvements, but I'm just real concerned

 

           10              about how we are taking these decisions, who

 

           11              is making these decisions and what

 

           12              information they we are getting to make

 

           13              these decisions, so if you send all of that

 

           14              to the mayor and we got no response maybe we

 

           15              could send it to Director Hayes, but I'd

 

           16              like to know who is making these decisions

 

           17              and what their qualifications are.  I think

 

           18              if we going to make big changes like that I

 

           19              would be in favor of seeing some kind of

 

           20              professional study done to tell us -- no

 

           21              one, I don't think there is anyone in the

 

           22              city that wants the fire house closed that's

 

           23              near their house.  Nobody wants that; right?

 

           24                      MS. FANUCCI: But I also want to know

 

           25              where this even came from.  Are though


 

 

                                                                      49

 

 

            1              closing fire houses?

 

            2                      MS. GATELLI: I spoke to the mayor

 

            3              because I was concerned about especially my

 

            4              fire house.

 

            5                      MS. FANUCCI: Right.

 

            6                      MS. GATELLI:  You know, it's the

 

            7              only one in South Scranton and I know the

 

            8              one in North Scranton is the only one over

 

            9              there and we fought a long time for that

 

           10              firehouse for many years.  Mr. Gervasi knows

 

           11              that, we have 10,000 names and I'll bring

 

           12              them to the mayor's office if I have to, but

 

           13              he told me that no firehouses were closing.

 

           14                      MS. EVANS: Well, engine companies

 

           15              apparently --

 

           16                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Here's my --

 

           17                      Ms. Evans: But first he -- I believe

 

           18              what happened was an announcement was made

 

           19              at city council last week --

 

           20                      MS. FANUCCI: And the day of the

 

           21              signs went up so I'm wondering where all of

 

           22              this information came from.  There's signs

 

           23              all over the place.

 

           24                      MS. EVANS: --  that they were going

 

           25              to close and then thereafter the mayor was


 

 

                                                                      50

 

 

            1              quoted as saying, "That wasn't true," and

 

            2              then another article came out in the

 

            3              newspaper I believe the following day

 

            4              announcing that engine companies.  There

 

            5              would be a difference in staffing followed

 

            6              by the closing of two engine companies, one

 

            7              at headquarters downtown and one on Main

 

            8              Avenue --

 

            9                      MS. FANUCCI: Where did that --

 

           10                      MS. EVANS: -- across from --

 

           11                      MR. MCGOFF: Mr. Courtright did have

 

           12              the floor opinion.

 

           13                      MS. FANUCCI: Oh, I'm sorry.  Yeah,

 

           14              that always happens to you.  Sorry.  Sorry,

 

           15              Bill.

 

           16                      MR. COURTRIGHT: My mother told me I

 

           17              had to be a gentleman to you ladies so --

 

           18              here is my concern, okay, and if it's just

 

           19              engine companies then it's just trucks, that

 

           20              might sound fine to some, but these people

 

           21              have specific jobs when they get to there.

 

           22              Somebody has got to lay the line down and

 

           23              somebody has got to, you know, hook into the

 

           24              fire hydrant, there is so many different

 

           25              things, and to a lay person, oh, the


 

 

                                                                      51

 

 

            1              firehouse is still open.  Well, yeah, but

 

            2              who is in that firehouse and what's in that

 

            3              firehouse and who is arriving on scene and

 

            4              who is doing what?  And I don't claim to be

 

            5              an expert in that so I'm not going to stand

 

            6              here or sit here and say that, but who is

 

            7              making those decisions?  I would hope it's

 

            8              an expert and that's what I would like to

 

            9              see, where that's coming from.

 

           10                      I'm not saying you can't make

 

           11              changes, I don't think anybody is saying you

 

           12              can't improve, but let's face it, fires take

 

           13              lives, firefighters save lives, one life

 

           14              would be too many, so I just would really

 

           15              think that this is something that we should

 

           16              be made aware of and if it's not true then

 

           17              none of these engine companies are moving,

 

           18              none of these truck companies are moving and

 

           19              tell us that it's not true, but let's not

 

           20              believe just the newspaper, no offense to

 

           21              the newspaper people, and that's it.  I'm

 

           22              done.  Thank you.

 

           23                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you,

 

           24              Mr. Courtright.  Prior to citizens'

 

           25              participation I would like to read a letter


 

 

                                                                      52

 

 

            1              that was received this past week.  It's,

 

            2              "Dear Scranton City Council, I am writing

 

            3              this letter in response to the March 16,

 

            4              2009, city council meeting and to provide

 

            5              accuracy to the operations of my company,

 

            6              Danielle and Company, Incorporated, and my

 

            7              credentials both personally and

 

            8              professionally.

 

            9                      Danielle and Company is a

 

           10              manufacturer of contemporary and natural and

 

           11              organic beauty care products, namely, soaps,

 

           12              body washes, lotions, candles and lip balms.

 

           13              All of our products are made with the purest

 

           14              ingredients to nourish the skin, enhance the

 

           15              senses and protect the earth.  I started my

 

           16              company in my home and create my products

 

           17              based on the empirical data that shows the

 

           18              effectiveness of scents on our well-being.

 

           19                      To date, my company has grown to

 

           20              occupy a 10,000-square foot factory in

 

           21              Scranton.  All of our products are handmade

 

           22              in our facility and we are a family-owned

 

           23              and operated business with all employees

 

           24              being born and raised in Northeastern

 

           25              Pennsylvania.


 

 

                                                                      53

 

 

            1                      We manufacture over 85 different

 

            2              products and they are sold to over 100 spas,

 

            3              boutiques and health food stores in the

 

            4              United States, Canada and Japan with premier

 

            5              locations at Marriott Hotel and Spa, The

 

            6              Ritz Carlton Spa in Florida and many

 

            7              Hallmark stores.  We also sell our products

 

            8              at our showroom on Adams Avenue and on-line

 

            9              at www.danielleandcompany.com. Our products

 

           10              have been sold on QVC for Earth Day, have

 

           11              been featured in over 20 national magazines.

 

           12              We are also sold at drugstore.com and

 

           13              amazon.com, MSN.com and provided to shops

 

           14              globally and were chosen to be included in

 

           15              the coveted gift bags at the Billboard Music

 

           16              Awards.

 

           17                      Over 40 high profile celebrities

 

           18              have also lathered up in our products, some

 

           19              on that list include, Tony Bennett, Janet

 

           20              Jackson, Paula Abdul, Courtney Love, Howie

 

           21              Mandell.

 

           22                      In regards to my personal and

 

           23              professional credentials, I am a recipient

 

           24              of the many academic and professional awards

 

           25              including Young Entrepreneur of the year by


 

 

                                                                      54

 

 

            1              the Bank of America, the top 20 under 40

 

            2              business leaders in Northeastern,

 

            3              Pennsylvania, Small Business Spotlight

 

            4              Award, top 40 in the 40 successful

 

            5              individuals in Northeast Pennsylvania, two

 

            6              time winner of the pride and progress award

 

            7              for interior design by the Scranton Chamber,

 

            8              I have received the United States Senate

 

            9              Award from Entrepreneurship from Senator

 

           10              Arlen Spector and have been awarded

 

           11              nationally for the best organic product and

 

           12              best in show of the New York International

 

           13              gift show and was named top 20 people to

 

           14              know in the global cosmetic industry by GCI

 

           15              magazine.

 

           16                      I have presented research at

 

           17              national psychological conventions and I was

 

           18              an invited panelist in alternative medicine

 

           19              magazine.  I am also certified in herbal

 

           20              techniques from the il Laboratorio dell'

 

           21              Erborista in Pitigliano, Tuscany, Italy.

 

           22                      I have already received a $30,000

 

           23              innovate research grant from the

 

           24              Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in partnership

 

           25              with Marywood University to further research


 

 

                                                                      55

 

 

            1              and commercialize and customize a scent

 

            2              delivery system and I'm working with

 

            3              Pennsylvania farmers to provide the raw

 

            4              materials we need for our products and to

 

            5              sustain Pennsylvania agriculture.  We are

 

            6              also a PA preferred vendor with the

 

            7              Pennsylvania department of ago are culture.

 

            8                      I have been an invited lecturer at

 

            9              Keystone College, Misericordia University,

 

           10              the University of Scranton, Wall Street West

 

           11              and Economics Pennsylvania, the entrepreneur

 

           12              institute, as well as serving as an adjunct

 

           13              faculty member at Marywood University.

 

           14                      I am involved with a number of

 

           15              community organizations including the Great

 

           16              Valley Technology Alliance Board, Scranton

 

           17              Business Alliance, Marywood University

 

           18              Alumni Council, Leadership of Lackawanna

 

           19              County, and am an ambassador to the

 

           20              Lackawanna Heritage Valley program.  I was

 

           21              also part of a team to help raise $20,000

 

           22              for the Children's Advocacy Center in

 

           23              Scranton.

 

           24                      I am a national board certified

 

           25              counselor and have been in the field of


 

 

                                                                      56

 

 

            1              psychology and human development for eight

 

            2              years.  I have obtained a BA in Psychology

 

            3              from Arabian College and a MA in mental

 

            4              health counseling from Marywood University

 

            5              and am currently pursuing a doctoral degree

 

            6              in human development from Marywood.

 

            7                      In closing, my company has and will

 

            8              continue to create jobs in the area.  We

 

            9              brought life to a blighted plot on Adams

 

           10              Avenue, we are bringing in revenues to

 

           11              increase the tax base for Scranton that

 

           12              support the global economy and we are

 

           13              keeping manufacturing alive in Scranton.  We

 

           14              are seen as leaders in both the local

 

           15              communities and national and green and eco

 

           16              friendly movement and are educating local

 

           17              citizens weekly classes at our facility.

 

           18                      We invite anyone to come by our

 

           19              facility and receive a personal tour and see

 

           20              firsthand how we are an asset to the City of

 

           21              Scranton and it's citizens.  I would be

 

           22              happy to show our citizens the value that we

 

           23              bring to Scranton and how as a young female

 

           24              entrepreneur I chose to stay here because I

 

           25              believe in the people and resources of


 

 

                                                                      57

 

 

            1              Northeastern Pennsylvania.

 

            2                      I have also reviewed the comments

 

            3              made by speaker at the council meeting and

 

            4              have responded and have provided a response

 

            5              to his false and untrue accusations.  Number

 

            6              one, we are not doing aromatherapy as a

 

            7              practice at Danielle and Company and have

 

            8              never made that claim.  We have are a

 

            9              manufacturing of bath and body care

 

           10              products.  We make products that have

 

           11              specific scents in them and have shown to

 

           12              have an effect on well-being.

 

           13                      I am not an aromatherapist and never

 

           14              claimed to be.  There is no information on

 

           15              my website that substantiates this false

 

           16              accusation.  I have never said that I am

 

           17              trained in aromatherapy and will never be

 

           18              trained in aromatherapy therapy because I do

 

           19              not study aromatherapy.  I study aromacology

 

           20              and that is the psychology of scent.  I have

 

           21              studied the field of psychology since 2000

 

           22              and have received a bachelor and master's

 

           23              degree.  I am trained in certified in

 

           24              psychology.

 

           25                      I am trained as a cognitive


 

 

                                                                      58

 

 

            1              behavioral therapist and am a board

 

            2              certified counselor," she gives the

 

            3              certification number.  "Although I am

 

            4              concerned qualified to be able to practice

 

            5              counseling, psychotherapy and deal with

 

            6              people who have emotional problems, I am not

 

            7              practicing as a therapist.  I am devoted to

 

            8              my business and my mental program.  I am not

 

            9              offering aromatherapy sessions or cognitive

 

           10              behavioral sessions at my factory and this

 

           11              is not a part of my business.

 

           12                      Danielle and Company is not a

 

           13              wellness program and never claims to be.  My

 

           14              credentials are with the universities I

 

           15              attended and the National Board of Certified

 

           16              Counselors.  I am not a psychologist and

 

           17              never claim to be one, you need a doctoral

 

           18              degree to be a psychologist.  I do not have

 

           19              a doctoral degree at this time.

 

           20                      The American Psychological

 

           21              Association is for psychologists and I am

 

           22              not a psychologist and never claimed to be.

 

           23              I am not going to hurt a person's emotional

 

           24              or physical life.  On the contrary, I am

 

           25              trained and certified to counsel people in


 

 

                                                                      59

 

 

            1              the time of need.  I must make this point

 

            2              clear.  Although, I am able to be a

 

            3              therapist, I am not practicing.  Myself and

 

            4              my company are greatly shocked and saddened

 

            5              by the untrue and false accusations made by

 

            6              the speaker.  I firmly believe he is

 

            7              misinformed.  I have now turned the matter

 

            8              over to my attorneys to ensure my good name

 

            9              and legal rights are protected.  Sincerely,

 

           10              Danielle K. Flemming, founder and CEO of

 

           11              Danielle and Company."

 

           12                      Thank you for bearing with me.  In a

 

           13              reply to me she said that the speaker had a

 

           14              five minutes to speak and she would like her

 

           15              five minutes as well.

 

           16                      (Whereupon there were comments from

 

           17              the audience.

 

           18                      MR. MCGOFF: Excuse me.  Citizens'

 

           19              participation.  Dave Schreiber.

 

           20                      MR. SCHREIBER:  Good evening,

 

           21              Council.  My name is Dave Schreiber, I'm

 

           22              president of the Scranton firefighters'

 

           23              union and also a city resident.  Councilman

 

           24              Courtright brought up a point tonight that

 

           25              obviously I wanted to touch upon.  There


 

 

                                                                      60

 

 

            1              seems to be some confusion of what's going

 

            2              on.  The mayor has been on record several

 

            3              times, 8-31-08 he is on record stating that

 

            4              he wants to close three to four firehouses.

 

            5              He is also on record reductions in the fire

 

            6              department.  We understand that, obviously,

 

            7              things are changing for us.  That's not why

 

            8              I'm here.  I'm here to educate what some of

 

            9              these proposed cuts are going to be.

 

           10                      I was in a meeting two weeks ago

 

           11              when the proposal for Engine 9 and Engine 4

 

           12              were introduced.  Director Hayes was there,

 

           13              Chief Davis was there, and Stu Renda.  They

 

           14              are looking at closing Engine 4 in this

 

           15              building next door and Engine 9 over in

 

           16              Tripps Park and combining it into a quint

 

           17              unit which is one combined unit.  It's a

 

           18              failed experiment from the 70's.  It was

 

           19              tried out in several communities, never

 

           20              worked out.  That's a vehicle that just you

 

           21              are trying to get too much out of one

 

           22              vehicle, it doesn't work.

 

           23                      In basic terms what we need to

 

           24              understand is it's really semantics to say

 

           25              I'm not closing the firehouse, you are


 

 

                                                                      61

 

 

            1              closing the fire engine.  That engine has a

 

            2              specific job just like the fire truck has a

 

            3              specific job.  In a nutshell, you could say

 

            4              Army and Navy, the two combined to do an

 

            5              overall task, but each individual unit has a

 

            6              completely different perspective and

 

            7              assignment.  The engine company brings water

 

            8              to the fire, pulls the line off, the crew

 

            9              members go in to start extinguishing.  The

 

           10              truck company opens up, starts ventilating.

 

           11                      Now, just a room and contents fire

 

           12              you are dealing with temperatures of 2000

 

           13              degrees at the ceiling height.  Down near

 

           14              the floor possibly up to 200 degrees, that's

 

           15              why when you go in you need to open up a

 

           16              roof, open up windows, the rescue crew and

 

           17              sometimes the truck crews we are trying to

 

           18              find are victims, we are doing the search.

 

           19              We always assume there is a potential victim

 

           20              in the house.

 

           21                      All of these tasks, and I'm being

 

           22              very oversimplified with this, these tasks

 

           23              needs to be done in unison.  The second two

 

           24              engine company that's coming in we have one

 

           25              engine company in front of the building


 

 

                                                                      62

 

 

            1              putting a line on the fire.  The second two

 

            2              engine comes in to bring water to that first

 

            3              engine company and to provide back up lines.

 

            4              If we entertain this concept of a quint or

 

            5              eliminate, even if they not calling it a

 

            6              quint, just a truck company at headquarters

 

            7              and a truck company over in West Side at --

 

            8              over in the 1,000 block of North Main Avenue

 

            9              there is not engine companies there, and

 

           10              it's really folly to go with a concept like

 

           11              that.  These companies are the heart of the

 

           12              city, the West Side and in Central City.

 

           13                      I myself live on Leggett Street up

 

           14              in North end off of Rockwell Avenue and to

 

           15              put it in perspective from my house, we have

 

           16              a bridge up there that's been a three ton

 

           17              limit for, God, I have no -- I don't

 

           18              remember the last time I have seen something

 

           19              that it's going to be taken care of, it's

 

           20              been ten years or more, fire trucks can't go

 

           21              over that bridge.  The route Engine 8, which

 

           22              is on West Market Street, has to go down

 

           23              Providence Square, out North Main Avenue to

 

           24              the Pepsi plant down near Schiff's Foods,

 

           25              come up the back way, down Charles Street,


 

 

                                                                      63

 

 

            1              down Rockwell Avenue to my house.  Okay,

 

            2              they show up, my house is on fire, my

 

            3              children are trapped inside or my wife, God

 

            4              forbid, that next engine company that's

 

            5              coming to supply them water now, remember

 

            6              that company has three to four minutes worth

 

            7              of water, that next engine company that's

 

            8              coming in is supposed to take the hydrant to

 

            9              supply that engine and back up those people,

 

           10              you want to guess where that engine is going

 

           11              to come from if you close Engine 9 and

 

           12              Engine 4?  It's going to be Luzerne Street

 

           13              in West Side and Petersburg Corners.  If you

 

           14              have ever driven through our city in the

 

           15              middle of the day or even that distance it

 

           16              could be two in the morning you are not

 

           17              going to get there in a timely manner.

 

           18              It's absolutely ridiculous to think of a

 

           19              concept like that.

 

           20                      And, I mean, the mayor is one day

 

           21              there is an article we are not closing

 

           22              stations, well, we are closing stations.

 

           23              Well, now we are going to do a quint, we're

 

           24              not doing quints.  It's time to put the

 

           25              cards on the table and say where you going


 

 

                                                                      64

 

 

            1              with this and I agree with council.

 

            2                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Dave, could I ask

 

            3              you one quick question, who came up with

 

            4              this idea of the quint?  Who is the expert

 

            5              telling you this?  I'd like to know where

 

            6              this stuff is coming from?

 

            7                      MR. SCHREIBER: I have no idea.  It

 

            8              was presented, like I said, at a meeting.  I

 

            9              was there, I was present and so was Chief

 

           10              Davis, Director Hayes, and Stu Renda.  And

 

           11              who?  I mean, obviously, I don't think there

 

           12              is anybody capable of coming up with that

 

           13              type of concept and making those wholesale

 

           14              changes to our whole response system.

 

           15                      MR. COURTRIGHT: They had to get it

 

           16              from somewhere; right?

 

           17                      MR. SCHREIBER:  I really don't -- I

 

           18              think it's just trying to figure a way to

 

           19              reduce the amount of persons, the amount of

 

           20              personnel.  I truly that's in my heart

 

           21              that's what I believe because I have asked

 

           22              that same question, where is this coming

 

           23              from, you know, and nobody has given me an

 

           24              answer.  All I'm hearing is bits, parts.  It

 

           25              is an absolutely -- absolutely fool-hearted


 

 

                                                                      65

 

 

            1              to look at it from that point of view to

 

            2              close those engine companies down, and don't

 

            3              just take it from my point of view at the

 

            4              north end, if you are in West Side it's

 

            5              going to be the same thing, Engine 7 could

 

            6              have the house right next to their station

 

            7              over on Luzerne Street, the next two water

 

            8              coming in is going to be South Side or

 

            9              Petersburg with those two stations closed.

 

           10              It's just crazy.  It's crazy.

 

           11                      Now, you need to remember the cuts

 

           12              in engine companies, Councilwoman Gatelli

 

           13              talked about the petition drive, that

 

           14              petition drive was done for Engine 13, which

 

           15              is long gone.

 

           16                      MS. GATELLI:  I know.

 

           17                      MR. SCHREIBER: We are down to Engine

 

           18              2 back in South Side, that's it.  South Side

 

           19              is a huge area and in this city --

 

           20                      MS. GATELLI: Too big for just one.

 

           21                      MS. SCHREIBER: Pardon?

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI: Because we do Montage

 

           23              now, too, with that truck.

 

           24                      MR. SCHREIBER: You have to realize,

 

           25              our biggest building area in the city is on


 

 

                                                                      66

 

 

            1              the two mountains.  Our footprint as a city

 

            2              is getting wider and wider.  If now there is

 

            3              a need for coverage up in the East Mountain

 

            4              and West Mountain more now than ever and to

 

            5              go in an opposite direction and not take

 

            6              that into consideration is just haphazard.

 

            7              There is just too much at stake, and I'm not

 

            8              trying to be alarmist here, but the last

 

            9              time engine companies were closed we had

 

           10              multiple fatalities.  You show up, I mean,

 

           11              they had it up near Strazerri's restaurant

 

           12              with Engine 9 was closed last time, it was

 

           13              about ten years ago.  The crew that showed

 

           14              up there you can only do a certain amount of

 

           15              tasks.  They had people hanging out of

 

           16              windows, they're trying to put water on a

 

           17              fire, you can only do one task.

 

           18                      It may make sense for a bean counter

 

           19              or for an accountant to look at this and

 

           20              say, "Here is how we can cut a few bodies,"

 

           21              but it's absolutely our safety and more

 

           22              importantly the public's safety that's at

 

           23              risk.  That's why those signs are out there.

 

           24              That's why people need to educate

 

           25              themselves.  This is not an issue that can


 

 

                                                                      67

 

 

            1              be derived from shoot from the hip.  It's

 

            2              not political.  There absolutely is a

 

            3              scientific way to approach looking at it,

 

            4              and I'm telling you this city is only

 

            5              getting smaller.  We still have the small

 

            6              25 square miles and actually population is

 

            7              going up.

 

            8                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you, Mr.

 

            9              Schreiber.

 

           10                      MS. EVANS: Mr. Schreiber, I just

 

           11              want to ask you, as was stated earlier, we

 

           12              did ask for the mayor's response on what he

 

           13              is basing these decisions, and again, we did

 

           14              not receive a response from him, however,

 

           15              now I understand you met with Mr. Hayes.

 

           16                      MR. SCHREIBER: Correct.

 

           17                      MS. EVANS:  Correct, and so

 

           18              Mr. Courtright wants the letter directed to

 

           19              Mr. Hayes, in the event that there is no

 

           20              current independent study that has been

 

           21              consulted in order to make these types of

 

           22              decisions would you say that it would be

 

           23              wise to commission a study then, an

 

           24              independent study in terms of the fire

 

           25              stations, the manpower in the City of


 

 

                                                                      68

 

 

            1              Scranton, and then wait for those results--

 

            2                      MR. SCHREIBER:  Absolutely.

 

            3                      MS. EVANS: -- before anything would

 

            4              be touched by people are who are not

 

            5              professionals, trained professionals in

 

            6              firefighting.

 

            7                      MR. SCHREIBER: Absolutely.  I mean,

 

            8              here we are, there's a statement made, I

 

            9              believe it was yesterday that now they are

 

           10              looking at we are ata 142 person fire

 

           11              department, the mayor made the statement

 

           12              130, which is in his right, that's the

 

           13              Commonwealth order.  We have no problems.

 

           14              We know we are along for the ride no matter

 

           15              what happens, but there truly is a safety

 

           16              impact on these type of cuts, 130 people if

 

           17              you go from 142 to 130, obviously, something

 

           18              has to give.  You are not going to -- to

 

           19              make a statement nothing is going to close,

 

           20              come on.  Let's be honest.  That's what we

 

           21              need right now is honesty.

 

           22                      MS. EVANS: Thank you.

 

           23                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you.  Bill

 

           24              Jackowitz.

 

           25                      MR. JACKOWITZ: Good evening,


 

 

                                                                      69

 

 

            1              Mr. President, Scranton City Council, Bill

 

            2              Jackowitz, South Scranton resident and

 

            3              member of the Taxpayers' Association.  All

 

            4              taxes are paid, two parking tickets were

 

            5              paid, also.

 

            6                      ECTV you are doing a good job.  Keep

 

            7              showing council members at speakers are

 

            8              speaking.  Show both sides.  Bionic, believe

 

            9              it or not I care.  The City of Scranton was

 

           10              founded in 1866, now in 2009, after a

 

           11              firefighter's death we waited for a safety

 

           12              report to implement procedures that possibly

 

           13              could have been prevented this death.  This

 

           14              is not the first Scranton firefighter to die

 

           15              from electrocution.  I quote Chief Davis,

 

           16              "The department always had standard

 

           17              procedures for around power lines, though

 

           18              some of them were written down and some of

 

           19              them weren't", that's a quote from the fire

 

           20              chief.  "Since Captain Robson's death the

 

           21              department has put the procedures in

 

           22              writing," he said.

 

           23                      What kind of leadership is this?  No

 

           24              wonder why 92 percent of the firefighters

 

           25              quoted no confidence in the chief.  Where


 

 

                                                                      70

 

 

            1              have the mayor, safety director and fire

 

            2              chief been for the past seven years?  For

 

            3              that matter, where have they been for the

 

            4              past 103 years?  They sure have not been

 

            5              protecting the firefighters and citizens of

 

            6              Scranton.  In my opinion this is a disgrace,

 

            7              but more importantly, two Scranton

 

            8              firefighters have lost their life since

 

            9              1906, 103 years.  Fourteen firefighters

 

           10              fatalities duty-related.  1 March 1977,

 

           11              Chauffeur Edward Poch, P-O-C-H,

 

           12              electrocuted, aerial ladder, came in contact

 

           13              with power line at the Chamberlin

 

           14              Corporation.  It happened before and nothing

 

           15              was ever done to correct it.

 

           16                      Scranton City Council meetings are a

 

           17              joke.  Week after week the same ten people

 

           18              come before council and ask questions.  All

 

           19              they ask for are honest, accurate answers.

 

           20              For the most part, the answers never come.

 

           21              Personally, I have asked 37 questions in the

 

           22              last three and a half years.  I have

 

           23              received answers to five of these questions.

 

           24              Three of the answers that I received have

 

           25              been misleading and flat out wrong.  I am


 

 

                                                                      71

 

 

            1              not rude.  I am frustrated with the rudeness

 

            2              of certain council members answering

 

            3              citizens questions -- not answering

 

            4              citizens' questions.  I have been told that

 

            5              I am sarcastic and rude.  I have been called

 

            6              out by name by council with no opportunity

 

            7              to respond.  I have been called names as I

 

            8              walk away from the podium with no

 

            9              opportunity to respond.  That takes courage.

 

           10                      I have been interrupted as I am

 

           11              trying to make a point, like I was last

 

           12              week, trying to make a point.  Last week it

 

           13              appeared a council member was asleep.

 

           14              Council members carry on sidebar

 

           15              conversations as speakers are speaking and

 

           16              they seem to be writing their

 

           17              autobiographies.  They surely are not

 

           18              writing down the questions that are being

 

           19              asked.

 

           20                      I have also been searched and made

 

           21              to stand out in the cold to attend counsel

 

           22              meetings.  You may not agree with the

 

           23              speakers or may not even like the speaker,

 

           24              but as an elected official I feel you have

 

           25              the obligation to at least listen to the


 

 

                                                                      72

 

 

            1              speakers.  We are only speaking for five

 

            2              minutes.  If you as elected officials do not

 

            3              want to attend weekly council meetings then

 

            4              change the Home Rule Charter to monthly

 

            5              meetings or just do not show up, you would

 

            6              be paid anyways.  Show some respect to the

 

            7              speakers, at least pay attention, not

 

            8              snicker, laugh and make silly faces.  Do not

 

            9              announce that citizens will have time to ask

 

           10              questions and then take the vote before the

 

           11              citizens are allowed to speak and talk back

 

           12              to the speaker.  Excuses are like blank,

 

           13              everybody has one.

 

           14                      City council meetings are open to

 

           15              the public which means that all citizens

 

           16              have the right to attend these meetings and

 

           17              speak about anything that deals with city

 

           18              government, the state of the city, including

 

           19              the economy, unemployment, the budget and

 

           20              many more topics.

 

           21                      Believe it or not, the City of

 

           22              Scranton has been distressed for 17 years.

 

           23              Fire and police have not had a contract in

 

           24              seven years.  Taxes have been raised, fines

 

           25              and penalties have been implemented by NCC.


 

 

                                                                      73

 

 

            1              They continue to make mistakes and cause

 

            2              taxpayers undue hardship.  Several people

 

            3              have spoken to me about problems they have

 

            4              occurring in the county.  I explain that I

 

            5              am not an elected official and I cannot

 

            6              assist them they need to contact Council

 

            7              Members McGoff, Fanucci and Gatelli.  After

 

            8              speaking with council members they contact

 

            9              Mayor Doherty.

 

           10                      Why do we have a city council

 

           11              anyways?  Facts are facts.  A firefighter

 

           12              died because of inexperience, unqualified

 

           13              leadership at the top of city government.

 

           14              Now he wants to disband two engine

 

           15              companies.  The same leaders are making this

 

           16              decision.  No wonder why Northeastern

 

           17              Pennsylvania has the problems.  We have,

 

           18              again, as I said, we have no leadership.  We

 

           19              only have nepotism.  If you know somebody

 

           20              you need not to know anything else.

 

           21                      Corruption update:  Turnpike

 

           22              commissioners, fired; judge's wife resigned

 

           23              as clerk, $47,436 a year part-time clerk.

 

           24              Qualifications do not matter, a recent quote

 

           25              from the councilwoman.  These signs say do


 

 

                                                                      74

 

 

            1              not vote, quit stealing DiBileo signs.  This

 

            2              is a sign of desperation.

 

            3                      MR. MCGOFF: Andy Sbaraglia.

 

            4                      MR. SBARAGLIA: Andy Sbaraglia,

 

            5              Citizen of Scranton.  Fellow Scrantonians, I

 

            6              wouldn't necessarily say something on 7-A in

 

            7              fact, I wasn't planning to, but you read a

 

            8              very impressive letter.  My question is why

 

            9              does she need the money?

 

           10                      Okay, let's get on to it, you read

 

           11              with the insurance, did anybody ever realize

 

           12              why we are going back from this way all the

 

           13              way back to January on the insurance?  I did

 

           14              ask that question last week, I was hoping we

 

           15              had an answer.

 

           16                      MR. MCGOFF: Do you wish it now?

 

           17                      MR. SBARAGLIA: Oh, yeah, sure.  Why

 

           18              not?

 

           19                      MR. MCGOFF: It's your time.

 

           20                      MR. SBARAGLIA:  That's okay.

 

           21                      MR. MCGOFF: I was told that they met

 

           22              with Mr. Knowles, or with the Knowles

 

           23              Associates whatever in December and went

 

           24              through the needs that they had, the Knowles

 

           25              then searches out vendors for the insurance


 

 

                                                                      75

 

 

            1              and that they only recently received back

 

            2              the information from Knowles and that the

 

            3              legislation was put together when the

 

            4              information from Knowles and Associates was

 

            5              given to them.

 

            6                      MR. SBARAGLIA: Can I assume we had

 

            7              insurance coverage from January?

 

            8                      MR. MCGOFF: Yes, it was a carry over

 

            9              from the prior year and/or subsequent to.

 

           10                      MR. SBARAGLIA: Leeway.  Okay.  It

 

           11              sounds like a dumb way of doing, but I guess

 

           12              that's the way they do it.  Okay, now what I

 

           13              want to talk about mainly is crime.  I had

 

           14              two signs stolen from my property, removed.

 

           15              Now, as we all know freedom of expression is

 

           16              very, very important to democracy.  When you

 

           17              got thugs running around doing things like

 

           18              that it makes you wonder, are you going to

 

           19              be safe to express yourself or is a rock

 

           20              going to come through your window?

 

           21                      This is very important.  It's the

 

           22              heart of democracy.  When your freedom of

 

           23              expression is taken away from you by anyone

 

           24              whether it's children, this, that or

 

           25              whatever, but this is important because it


 

 

                                                                      76

 

 

            1              was concerted.  I don't like concerted

 

            2              efforts to take away rights from people to

 

            3              express themselves, and this is the

 

            4              important thing of democracy, when you lose

 

            5              that you lose everything.  When you go to

 

            6              the poles are there going to be a group of

 

            7              people out there saying you can't vote

 

            8              because you don't -- I don't like how you

 

            9              voted or how your sign was in front of your

 

           10              house?

 

           11                      This is important.  We must get

 

           12              somebody to get these culprits.  They must

 

           13              be arrested and the maximum penalty should

 

           14              be imposed on them because this is the

 

           15              basics of all liberties.  It's like freedom

 

           16              of speech.  When you take them away from

 

           17              people you might as well be in a

 

           18              dictatorship.  When you start you start

 

           19              small.  If you were ever -- well, Mr. McGoff

 

           20              was a history teacher, I'm sure you realize

 

           21              how the Nazi's took control of Germany, I

 

           22              lived through it and read about it and this

 

           23              is one of the ways he did it, they took away

 

           24              the people's right to speak and they took

 

           25              away their right of expression.


 

 

                                                                      77

 

 

            1                      These are basics and, like I say, I

 

            2              would like to see you send a letter or all

 

            3              of you really sit up there and condemn it.

 

            4              Sit up there and say, "This is wrong.  It

 

            5              shouldn't be to know," and really that's it.

 

            6              Show where you are when it comes to things

 

            7              like this because you are all in the same

 

            8              boat, what affects one person affects all of

 

            9              us.  I thank you.

 

           10                      MR. MCGOFF: Ozzie Quinn.

 

           11                      MR. QUINN:  Ozzie Quinn, President

 

           12              of the Scranton and Lackawanna County

 

           13              Taxpayers' Association, Incorporated.  Would

 

           14              you hand these outs, please, to council and

 

           15              to the solicitor?  I just want to point out,

 

           16              and I'm not going to dwell this, you can

 

           17              vote on this, whatever you want to do, but

 

           18              in the applicant's website she says that she

 

           19              is she is an aromacologist, okay, and to be

 

           20              an aromacologist you first have to become an

 

           21              aromatherapist, and there are the

 

           22              regulations, that's all I have to do with --

 

           23              to say with it, okay?  Now, we are going to

 

           24              spend $25,000 we are going to give to this

 

           25              woman and taxpayers' money?


 

 

                                                                      78

 

 

            1                      MS. FANUCCI: It's a loan.

 

            2                      MR. QUINN:  I see many loans turn

 

            3              into grants here.  You know, taxpayers'

 

            4              money, people who have to pay, we saw

 

            5              tonight that there are people not paying

 

            6              their taxes in the City of Scranton.  We are

 

            7              paying our taxes, I'm paying my taxes, and

 

            8              the mayor wants to cut out fire engines.

 

            9              What are we going to be doing pretty soon to

 

           10              pay our taxes?  What are we going to get

 

           11              from it?  We have to pay for use of

 

           12              ballfields, taking the garbage out, you

 

           13              know, I just don't -- I don't understand it.

 

           14              This is getting ridiculous.  We have a debt

 

           15              of $150 or $160 million, where are we going

 

           16              and you want to pay $25 million for this

 

           17              time of a program?

 

           18                      You know what, drive over on Third,

 

           19              Fourth Avenue, Pierce, Lloyd, Faar, Dorothy

 

           20              Street, see how nice those neighborhoods

 

           21              are.  You know why they are nice?  They all

 

           22              have nice sidewalks and curbs put in to

 

           23              prior administrations to the Doherty

 

           24              administration.  The neighborhoods are

 

           25              beautiful.  Go to the other neighborhoods


 

 

                                                                      79

 

 

            1              that were not touched.  It's ashame that we

 

            2              are not getting what we are paying for in

 

            3              taxes, and it's got to be stopped and,

 

            4              please, I go don't want a fire engine trying

 

            5              to find my home where I live, and they know

 

            6              where I live, there is no doubt about it,

 

            7              but if there is one fire engine and if that

 

            8              driver got sick or something I'm not going

 

            9              to wait 15 minutes for the other guy to

 

           10              come.  Please, get rid of that.

 

           11              Mr. Courtright, you are in the right

 

           12              direction.  Thank you very much.

 

           13                      MR. MCGOFF: Bob Bolus.

 

           14                      MR. BOLUS: Good evening, Council.

 

           15              Bob Bolus, Scranton.  On 7-A, you know,

 

           16              listening to what I heard here tonight long

 

           17              resume and everything else I believe she

 

           18              should be loaning the city money than the

 

           19              other way around.  I mean, you know, in all

 

           20              honesty with that kind of a background and

 

           21              that kind of an expansive program, you know,

 

           22              I think it's shameful to come here and ask

 

           23              taxpayers to pay your way at this point, and

 

           24              I think she should have came here and spent

 

           25              her five minutes just like each and every


 

 

                                                                      80

 

 

            1              one of us had to do.  I think we should send

 

            2              our letters to you, Mr. McGoff, and you

 

            3              could read them and we could stay home and

 

            4              watch.

 

            5                      On this here -- there is so much in

 

            6              this city going on it's just utterly

 

            7              ridiculous.  Last night I was up at the

 

            8              Dunmore council and, you know, the issue

 

            9              came up about the fire department and about

 

           10              volunteers, fire trucks getting to a fire.

 

           11              Well, let me tell you, I'm a firefighter, a

 

           12              volunteer firefighter in Throop, and I drive

 

           13              the fire engine in Throop when I'm available

 

           14              up in the town during the day along with

 

           15              other have volunteers, and to see what this

 

           16              city is trying to do in the size of this

 

           17              city to stop and cut back engines to get --

 

           18              that's your primary and they want to slack

 

           19              off on it.  You need water.  That's what

 

           20              puts out fires.  That's what saves lives.

 

           21                      Go down Lackawanna Avenue, you have

 

           22              one-way practically down there.  You have

 

           23              the road closing, it used to be two lanes,

 

           24              try to get through the traffic.  You know,

 

           25              driving an engine and getting there or any


 

 

                                                                      81

 

 

            1              fire apparatus is not an easy task.  People

 

            2              are very ignorant today, they don't pay

 

            3              attention to sirens, lights or anything else

 

            4              that goes on.  Now, we want to cut service

 

            5              to the City of Scranton.

 

            6                      As Ozzie said, we have to pay a

 

            7              garbage fee to take out our garbage.  That

 

            8              should have been in our taxes from day one,

 

            9              which brings up a fee.  That's a fee we are

 

           10              paying.  When I said put fees on KOZ's,

 

           11              nonprofits, make them pay.  That was

 

           12              implemented, why aren't you implementing

 

           13              something else and I have been asking for

 

           14              years to do this.  You know, it's time to

 

           15              stop talking and start acting.

 

           16                      We have the sewer line, and I

 

           17              mentioned this to Dunmore because they are

 

           18              partnered with Scranton.  We have had this

 

           19              leachate line that I have talked about from

 

           20              day one that the landfill runs their flow

 

           21              through.  Sure it's treated by the city's

 

           22              sewer authority, however, the line comes

 

           23              through Dunmore and Scranton, go after a

 

           24              host community fee, get four or five bucks a

 

           25              gallon for it.  Start taking our debt down


 

 

                                                                      82

 

 

            1              by increasing this tax base and you ignoring

 

            2              it.  It's there.  Only you could do it.

 

            3                      You know, whether the landfill

 

            4              charges or gets charged they pass it on.

 

            5              You go to the gas pump and the gas pumps

 

            6              raise their price five cents, you don't

 

            7              argue, you pay five cents a gallon, so what

 

            8              are you waiting for?  You are the people

 

            9              that could do this.  You know, this

 

           10              administration has been negligent in a lot

 

           11              of areas and, you know, you keep patronizing

 

           12              them.  If you stop and put your foot down on

 

           13              them the mayor won't get away with half the

 

           14              stuff he is doing because you, too, control

 

           15              his money and as long as you give him cart

 

           16              blanch out here we are never going to go out

 

           17              of this mess, we are going to keep getting

 

           18              deeper and deeper.

 

           19                      And it was not to see Marilyn here.

 

           20              I have known her for many, many years, and

 

           21              it's nice to see they actually trying to

 

           22              find a solution to the problem, but where

 

           23              was the administration, where were the prior

 

           24              councils?  This didn't happen overnight and,

 

           25              you know, we always turn a blind eye in the


 

 

                                                                      83

 

 

            1              City of Scranton and who does it go back to

 

            2              the senior citizens, the taxpayers in the

 

            3              city that are ultimately paying this price.

 

            4                      You know, take the businesses.  We

 

            5              cut fire protection, we cut services,

 

            6              everybody is paying to be in the City of

 

            7              Scranton but who are they paying?  What are

 

            8              we getting into return for it?  Look at our

 

            9              roads, look at the condition in the city and

 

           10              we are in the spotlight of the nation, and

 

           11              it just makes you sit here and really,

 

           12              really wonder like what's really been going

 

           13              on here.

 

           14                      You know, we can sit and talk and as

 

           15              they've said we come here before council, I

 

           16              have been coming here for many years, and I

 

           17              don't see any changes happening.  I see a

 

           18              lot of talk, we want to build a library in

 

           19              South Side, buy a bank building that's

 

           20              falling down and pay millions and millions

 

           21              of dollars.  What are we going to do with

 

           22              the library we have here in Scranton, who

 

           23              gets that for free?

 

           24                      You know, these are assets.  They

 

           25              are not council's, they are not the


 

 

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            1              administration, past, present or future.

 

            2              You need to sit here and pay attention to

 

            3              the future of this city, and we are not

 

            4              doing that.  We are ignoring it all for all

 

            5              the egos out there.  For all the reasons

 

            6              that people want to take advantage of the

 

            7              people in this city.

 

            8                      You know, they say there is a

 

            9              recession, Scranton stays the same, but look

 

           10              at all of the houses being bought up in the

 

           11              city.  They are not being bought by

 

           12              Scrantonians, they are being bought from

 

           13              people all over the country.  We are the

 

           14              laughing stock of the nation because we are

 

           15              giving our city away and it's all because of

 

           16              what's happening this city from elected

 

           17              officials who are ignoring the taxpayers in

 

           18              the city.  I think we got to stop and draw

 

           19              the line in the sand now.  Thank you.

 

           20                      MR. MCGOFF: David Dwyer.

 

           21                      MR. MURPHY: I'm Mike Murphy, too.

 

           22                      MR. DWYER: Good evening, members of

 

           23              council, council staff and citizens.  I'm

 

           24              here to share with you, the Community

 

           25              Vegetable Gardens program that we are


 

 

                                                                      85

 

 

            1              implementing through the county.  Now, we

 

            2              have 20 sites that we have selected to grow

 

            3              fresh fruits and vegetables to donate the

 

            4              harvest to the local food pantries and to

 

            5              the soup kitchen.  You know, the purposes of

 

            6              the community garden is not necessarily just

 

            7              to grow the produce, but it's to raise the

 

            8              public's consciousness of what's actually

 

            9              happening in our community.  The number of

 

           10              people working -- the number of the working

 

           11              poor is growing by leaps and bounds today

 

           12              like we have never experienced before and

 

           13              our homeless population is growing

 

           14              tremendously as well and we need to know --

 

           15              really we need to gather together to help

 

           16              raise our brother up instead of pushing them

 

           17              aside and holding a blind eye to them.

 

           18                      This past week or two weeks ago I

 

           19              saw a gentleman tossing some things out the

 

           20              door and I said, "Good, we could use these

 

           21              things for our homeless ministry."

 

           22                      We have a homeless ministry for

 

           23              girls, and then I saw this girl coming out

 

           24              of the house crying and I went and I

 

           25              approached her and I asked her what was


 

 

                                                                      86

 

 

            1              going on and she had told me that her hours

 

            2              were cut back and that she no longer had

 

            3              enough money to make ends meet, and she had

 

            4              to make a decision could -- she had to make

 

            5              a decision of whether to feed her kids or to

 

            6              pay the rent, so as a compassionate mother

 

            7              she opted and made the wisest choice and the

 

            8              most practical was to buy the food for her

 

            9              kids.  But not only did she do that she went

 

           10              to her landlord and she said, please, just

 

           11              accept this and let me work on a way to get

 

           12              the rest of the money.  He wouldn't receive

 

           13              it.  He kicked her out.  He just threw her

 

           14              out and the street.  And I approached him

 

           15              and he explained things to him and he wanted

 

           16              to have no part of he just said sue.

 

           17                      There is another gentleman who is

 

           18              well-renowned in Glenmaura Country Club, he

 

           19              was the favorite caddy.  He served the elite

 

           20              of the community, tragedy hit his household

 

           21              and he ended up in the street and living in

 

           22              a van.  This past week he had half of his

 

           23              foot cut off because of frostbite and took

 

           24              -- ravaged his foot and gangrene set in and

 

           25              so they had to take half of his foot.  He is


 

 

                                                                      87

 

 

            1              still living in a van.

 

            2                      This is happening all over.  When

 

            3              you see a car in your neighborhood that you

 

            4              look like somebody is just collecting stuff

 

            5              in there car, that's their home.  There are

 

            6              people in abandoned buildings.  There are

 

            7              people down the river, you know, last year

 

            8              200 families were displaced that lived on

 

            9              the river all their personal belongings were

 

           10              tossed in the river and had no chance to

 

           11              recover their stuff or no warning that

 

           12              people were coming to throw stuff away.  We

 

           13              need to help these people and that's the

 

           14              purpose of a community garden.

 

           15                      And Mike Murphy is here, he is a

 

           16              talented gardener and he is going to help

 

           17              this weekend, he is helping us all along,

 

           18              but this weekend we are going to have a

 

           19              training session for volunteers and so we

 

           20              are putting a call out asking for the

 

           21              community to rise up and come out to

 

           22              volunteer and help us with the gardens, but

 

           23              not help us with the gardens, but plant a

 

           24              garden in their own yard and share the

 

           25              produce that comes from those gardens with


 

 

                                                                      88

 

 

            1              their neighbors.

 

            2                      We are in communication now with

 

            3              retailers who are going to do -- an Italian

 

            4              promotional market where a consumer can go

 

            5              into a grocery store and by a head of

 

            6              lettuce and share one with a food pantry or

 

            7              with a soup kitchen or they can take it and

 

            8              donate it to a charity of their own choice.

 

            9              These are things that are happening in the

 

           10              community and as we as a community if we

 

           11              continue to work together we can build a

 

           12              community and through unity we will be a

 

           13              stronger community.  Thank you very much for

 

           14              your time.

 

           15                      MS. FANUCCI: You had spoken to me

 

           16              earlier about where people could send

 

           17              donations or help you in trying to achieve

 

           18              more, you know -- be able to plant one.

 

           19              Where could they do that?  Where can they

 

           20              go?

 

           21                      MR. DWYER: Right now they can send

 

           22              -- well, we are going to have a meeting this

 

           23              Saturday, and Mike will talk about that, we

 

           24              are going to have a meeting every Saturday

 

           25              from now on at the Greenridge Assembly of


 

 

                                                                      89

 

 

            1              God Church, Penn State University Urban

 

            2              Farming Community Garden program under

 

            3              Dr. Essinger is instructing us and showing

 

            4              us how to raise gardens and so through

 

            5              Abington Gardens and Mike we will have the

 

            6              training there for people who have brown

 

            7              items to turn them into green thumbs and so

 

            8              it will be an ongoing community effort.  The

 

            9              news media and other people are behind it

 

           10              and we just want to share the word and get

 

           11              it out.

 

           12                      MS. FANUCCI: Thank you so much.

 

           13                      MR. DWYER: Thank you.

 

           14                      MR. MCGOFF: Mr. Murphy.

 

           15                      MR. MURPHY:  Good evening.  My name

 

           16              is Mike Murphy, I'm a resident of Scranton.

 

           17              I just want to thank you for the opportunity

 

           18              to present and promote this community garden

 

           19              concept and basically I want to try to make

 

           20              a broad general appeal to council, to the

 

           21              City of Scranton, to the residents for their

 

           22              cooperation and support and participation

 

           23              hopefully of what I consider and I think a

 

           24              lot of people are coming to the realization

 

           25              of a worthwhile endeavor and to provide any


 

 

                                                                      90

 

 

            1              information I can as far as where our --

 

            2              planning our implementation and hopefully

 

            3              our future vision will be, and as of right

 

            4              now we have a taken three vacant parcels in

 

            5              the city, one on the 1300 of Capouse and one

 

            6              on the 1300 of Penn and one on the 700 of

 

            7              Myrtle and also some property that's up at

 

            8              the Valley View Terrace Coop and Sister

 

            9              Carlene up there, so what we hope to do is

 

           10              with each of these plots is kind of partner

 

           11              with either school or organizations to

 

           12              develop seedling programs for anything

 

           13              that's within a range of that particular

 

           14              parcel.  So what we will hopefully do is let

 

           15              them incorporate that into the curriculum

 

           16              and provide the seedlings for the plots that

 

           17              we have done soil testing on those four that

 

           18              I have mentioned, we have turned earth and

 

           19              hopefully we will have some sort of

 

           20              rototiller, is that my bell?

 

           21                      MS. GATELLI: It's Phyllis' bell.

 

           22                      MR. MURPHY: Basically we are here to

 

           23              hit up people for help, for resources.  I am

 

           24              willing to do a lot things, but we need some

 

           25              equipment.  We need maybe the use of some


 

 

                                                                      91

 

 

            1              trucks if we had a place that we could store

 

            2              hay, mulch, compost, that kind of thing.  We

 

            3              plan on putting compost areas in each one of

 

            4              these and as and if hopefully if they are

 

            5              successful we would like to incorporate more

 

            6              and more of the city where now some usually

 

            7              vacant and unsightly lots and turn them into

 

            8              something we can all be proud of and that

 

            9              helps us all what we are doing, so I would

 

           10              just need to see that you guys are

 

           11              supportive of that idea and maybe a contact

 

           12              and, like I said, any resources that you may

 

           13              have available, and if you could find money

 

           14              all over the place we would -- but I'm more

 

           15              concerned with just equipment we can use and

 

           16              manpower, seeds and really support.  That's

 

           17              it.  Thank you.

 

           18                      MR. MCGOFF: Joe Talimini.

 

           19                      MR. TALIMINI: First of all, I would

 

           20              like to comment on Mr. McGoff's reading of

 

           21              that commercial.  If that had been Superbowl

 

           22              time it probably would have cost ab out

 

           23              $300 million for that commercial, but my

 

           24              compliments on your presentation.

 

           25                      I would like to clarify one matter


 

 

                                                                      92

 

 

            1              that's been brought up here on several

 

            2              occasions, and in fairness and justice I did

 

            3              investigate the question about Scartelli's

 

            4              equipment being on DPW property, Scartelli

 

            5              contractor was legitimately awarded and

 

            6              submitted contract -- legitimately awarded

 

            7              and I believe the same bidding process went

 

            8              through and Scartelli for whatever reason,

 

            9              one way or another, was the low bidder and

 

           10              got the contract again this year, so that's

 

           11              clarified, I don't want to hear anymore

 

           12              about that.

 

           13                      Comments about the citizens were

 

           14              made last week again by council members, and

 

           15              I think we should just saw a prime example

 

           16              of the contempt in which certain council

 

           17              members hold this audience.  I, for one,

 

           18              take offense.  Whether or not I agree with

 

           19              Mr. Quinn, I think Mr. Quinn has his right

 

           20              to present his case and to just discard the

 

           21              paper, I don't want to hear that garbage,

 

           22              that's a prime example of what we have right

 

           23              in this city.

 

           24                      Now, you know, we have an issue

 

           25              here, we will call it if come money, and I


 

 

                                                                      93

 

 

            1              want you people all to be aware you voted

 

            2              for this 5.5 million dollars that the mayor

 

            3              proposed in his budget.  You voted for it.

 

            4              Remember that.  It's your responsibility.

 

            5              That's $5.5 million that nobody knew where

 

            6              the hell it was coming from.  Where did he

 

            7              get the idea when he presented his budget

 

            8              that that 5.5 million was coming in when you

 

            9              heard a good presentation tonight.  Nobody

 

           10              knew where the money was.  We finally got an

 

           11              audit and yet the budget was approved with

 

           12              his if come money which nobody knew where it

 

           13              was coming from.

 

           14                      Again, if come money.  You know what

 

           15              if come money means?  It's there if it comes

 

           16              in, but nobody knew it was coming in except

 

           17              the mayor apparently.  And what a surprise,

 

           18              there was no 5.5 million coming.  I think

 

           19              it's amazing.  And the thing that gets me

 

           20              more than anything else is you are an astute

 

           21              group of people.  You are supposed to be

 

           22              elected officials representing our

 

           23              interests.  Well, where the hell were our

 

           24              interest when you voted 5.5 million into a

 

           25              budget to be spent not knowing where the 5.5


 

 

                                                                      94

 

 

            1              million was coming from?

 

            2                      Now, I have an answer for this whole

 

            3              situation, I listened to this and it was a

 

            4              very fine presentation appropriately timed.

 

            5              You know, if we turn in this whole mess,

 

            6              this city administration and this tax office

 

            7              situation into an videogame I guarantee you

 

            8              if you put it in Wal-Mart within a week you

 

            9              would find a half a dozen intermediate

 

           10              school kids who could solve these problems.

 

           11              I don't know why we even pay you people.

 

           12              Thank you very much.

 

           13                      MR. MCGOFF: Jim Stucker.

 

           14                      MR. STUCKER: How you doing,

 

           15              Courtright?

 

           16                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Hi, Jim.

 

           17                      MR. STUCKER: I see they are doing

 

           18              the house over there on the flats, I seen

 

           19              they ripped it down.

 

           20                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Good.

 

           21                      MR. STUCKER:  A guy named Sammy he

 

           22              was one of the people I fixed it for.  Yeah,

 

           23              I fixed the fence.  I was down there for

 

           24              three days raking his leaves and all the

 

           25              twigs and stuff, got swept up for him.


 

 

                                                                      95

 

 

            1                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  That's good, Jim.

 

            2                      MR. STUCKER: So are they working on

 

            3              the house on Greenridge?  Are they working

 

            4              on it?

 

            5                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Not yet, Jim.  They

 

            6              boarded it up though.  It's boarded up.

 

            7              They haven't torn it down yet, but we will

 

            8              ask them about it for you.  Yep, you are

 

            9              right there, Buddy.

 

           10                      MR. STUCKER:  The light on Mulberry

 

           11              and Capouse on top of the hill there, right,

 

           12              where Mulberry is going this way?  Right

 

           13              next to it we have that printing shop on the

 

           14              corner, went there the other day there was a

 

           15              light and that light is not fixed.

 

           16                      MR. COURTRIGHT: They did fix it,

 

           17              Jim.  It must have broke again.  It was

 

           18              fixed.

 

           19                      MR. STUCKER: Yeah, it broke again.

 

           20                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  Okay, I'll tell

 

           21              them about it.

 

           22                      MR. STUCKER: Yeah.  I just noticed

 

           23              it.

 

           24                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  All right.

 

           25                      MR. STUCKER: So I'm supposed to be


 

 

                                                                      96

 

 

            1              getting another scooter.  I think I'm going

 

            2              to buy one.  Looking for another one.

 

            3                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  Jim, Jim, you can't

 

            4              ride the scooter on the street that's why

 

            5              you had to get rid of the last one.

 

            6                      MR. STUCKER: They let me do it.  She

 

            7              is the one that stole off me.

 

            8                      MR. COURTRIGHT: I know she stole it

 

            9              off you, I understand.

 

           10                      MR. STUCKER: That's the same one and

 

           11              the cops didn't stop me.  The cops didn't

 

           12              stop me from riding down the treat.

 

           13                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Jim, we been down

 

           14              this road for about three years, Buddy.  I

 

           15              don't know what to tell you.

 

           16                      MR. STUCKER: I was riding right back

 

           17              on the street there.

 

           18                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  If you get the

 

           19              scooter try to ride it on the sidewalk,

 

           20              okay?

 

           21                      MR. STUCKER: The sidewalks are bad.

 

           22                      MR. COURTRIGHT: I know.

 

           23                      MR. STUCKER: Very, very bad.  Some

 

           24              of the places are bad, going towards

 

           25              Capouse, the sidewalks are bad, they are all


 

 

                                                                      97

 

 

            1              tore up, the cement.

 

            2                      MR. COURTRIGHT: I know, Jim.

 

            3                      MR. STUCKER: Right by that building

 

            4              a couple of time where George Joyce worked

 

            5              on that house on Capouse and Ash, Ash and

 

            6              Capouse, well, they have people living in

 

            7              that house and their yard is all full of

 

            8              junk and garbage.  In the backyard and the

 

            9              front yard they are not doing nothing with

 

           10              the houses up there.  When the cops up there

 

           11              they had a knife.  They put the garbage out

 

           12              in the day and put the garbage out in the

 

           13              street and they picked it up.  Well, by the

 

           14              end of day there is garbage all over the

 

           15              yard in the back.

 

           16                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Okay, Jim.  Capouse

 

           17              and Ash, right?

 

           18                      MR. STUCKER:  Yeah.  Yeah.

 

           19                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Thank you, Jim.

 

           20                      MR. MCGOFF: Les Spindler.

 

           21                      MR. SPINDLER: I never thought this

 

           22              moment would come.  Les Spindler, city

 

           23              resident and taxpayer and homeowner.

 

           24              Mr. McGoff, did you check into why Carol

 

           25              Seitzinger has a free parking card in her


 

 

                                                                      98

 

 

            1              own personal vehicle.

 

            2                      MR. MCGOFF: I did not.

 

            3                      MR. SPINDLER:  Are you going to?

 

            4                      MS. GATELLI: I did.

 

            5                      MR. SPINDLER:  Do have you an

 

            6              answer?

 

            7                      MS. GATELLI:  I checked into that,

 

            8              Mark's city vehicle was not running and he

 

            9              used his wife's car.

 

           10                      MR. SPINDLER:  Okay.  Mrs. Fanucci,

 

           11              three more unpaid parking tickets from 2006.

 

           12                      MS. FANUCCI: What are you talking

 

           13              about?

 

           14                      MR. SPINDLER: When is it going to

 

           15              end?  Here they are.

 

           16                      MS. FANUCCI:  I am paid in full

 

           17              up-to-date, paid, couldn't pay anymore.  I

 

           18              don't know what you are doing.

 

           19                      MR. SPINDLER:  These are copies, you

 

           20              can keep them.

 

           21                      MS. FANUCCI: Well, thank you.  I

 

           22              don't know how it's possible.  I was there,

 

           23              I paid everything.  I don't know what you

 

           24              are talking about.

 

           25                      MR. SPINDLER:  Next thing, I want to


 

 

                                                                      99

 

 

            1              comment about the recommendations the

 

            2              federal report made to the fire department

 

            3              and that's a quote from Dave Schreiber.

 

            4              This is Dave Schreiber, president of the

 

            5              city's firefighters' union said, "Many of

 

            6              the recommendations in the report have long

 

            7              been standard practice of other fire

 

            8              departments across the United States.  We

 

            9              have been preaching these recommendations

 

           10              for years, he said.  We pushed this issue

 

           11              long before Jimmy's accidents."

 

           12                      Now, the city has known about these

 

           13              recommendations for years and years and has

 

           14              done nothing.  If Mayor Doherty had hired an

 

           15              incident safety officer, that incident

 

           16              safety officer would have known if those

 

           17              lines were live or not, instead he hires his

 

           18              crony friends.  Ray Hayes was a police

 

           19              officer and knows nothing about fire safety

 

           20              and he hires a fire chief that doesn't care

 

           21              about the safety of his firefighters.

 

           22                      Now, moving on about this subject

 

           23              about engine companies.  Mrs. Gatelli, you

 

           24              keep saying how you fight to keep your South

 

           25              Side station open, but you don't just work


 

 

                                                                     100

 

 

            1              for the people of South Side, you represent

 

            2              the people of the whole city.

 

            3                      MS. GATELLI:  Well, at the time,

 

            4              Mr. Spindler, I wasn't here.  I was just in

 

            5              the South Side neighborhood.

 

            6                      MR. SPINDLER: I mean --

 

            7                      MS. GATELLI:  That's why I did that

 

            8              then.

 

            9                      MR. SPINDLER: They are talking about

 

           10              closing engine companies --

 

           11                      MS. GATELLI: With Jimmy Connors.  I

 

           12              did it with Connors.

 

           13                      MR. SPINDLER:  Can I speak, please?

 

           14              They're talking about closing Engine 9,

 

           15              which could be in my house in probably 30

 

           16              seconds.

 

           17                      MS. GATELLI: Well, I'll do a

 

           18              petition for that one, too.

 

           19                      MR. SPINDLER: Then the next one

 

           20              would be Engine 4 which is right here, so if

 

           21              the two of them I don't know --

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI:  We are not in favor of

 

           23              closing firehouses.

 

           24                      MR. SPINDLER: -- where this

 

           25              firetruck is going to come from if my house


 

 

                                                                     101

 

 

            1              is on fire.

 

            2                      MS. GATELLI:  Please don't speak for

 

            3              me.  I'm not in favor of closing firehouses.

 

            4                      MR. SPINDLER: Well, I hope you are

 

            5              telling your friend, the mayor, this.

 

            6                      MS. GATELLI: Well, I did tell my

 

            7              friend, the mayor, that.  Yes, I did, so

 

            8              don't put words in my mouth.

 

            9                      MR. SPINDLER:  I'm not putting words

 

           10              in your mouth.

 

           11                      MS. GATELLI: I am not in favor of

 

           12              closing firehouses.

 

           13                      MR. SPINDLER: I hope you are not.

 

           14                      MS. GATELLI:  Read my lips.

 

           15                      MR. SPINDLER: Not fire houses, fire

 

           16              companies.

 

           17                      MS. GATELLI: Fire companies.

 

           18                      MR. SPINDLER: They are different.

 

           19                      MS. GATELLI: No, I'm not.

 

           20                      MS. SPINDLER: Okay.  Well, we'll

 

           21              hold you to that promise.

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI: You can hold me to it.

 

           23                      MR. SPINDLER: The next thing, the

 

           24              mayor keeps saying no crime in the city.

 

           25              Well, last night Channel 16 ran a story


 

 

                                                                     102

 

 

            1              about political signs being stolen and

 

            2              dumped in the Lackawanna river.  And it's

 

            3              funny not one of them had Chris Doherty's

 

            4              name on it, I wonder who can be behind that?

 

            5              And Chris Doherty's comment on the news was,

 

            6              "It's a political distraction."

 

            7                      Well, a good mayor would say

 

            8              something like, "I don't condone that

 

            9              action.  It's wrong.  Whoever did it

 

           10              shouldn't have done it," but he just uses it

 

           11              as another political ploy and that's the way

 

           12              he has been for eight years now.

 

           13                      Next thing, last weekend in the

 

           14              Doherty newsletter, Chris Doherty's said

 

           15              picking CDTV to run Channel 61 wasn't a

 

           16              political issue.  Does he think we are born

 

           17              yesterday or what?  He hand picked his own

 

           18              committee, and I guess Tom Welby did the

 

           19              speaking for the committee, Tom Welby is

 

           20              just another Doherty puppet, and the

 

           21              programming under Scranton Today was

 

           22              100 percent better than this programming is.

 

           23              Every time I put Channel 61 up there is

 

           24              shows repeated, repeated from six months ago

 

           25              and will they show an extra council meeting


 

 

                                                                     103

 

 

            1              on Wednesday or Thursday night when most

 

            2              people can watch?  No, they won't.  They are

 

            3              arrogant.  They don't want to do what the

 

            4              people of this city want to do and I think

 

            5              we should get Scranton Today back.  These

 

            6              people are a bunch of bums.  Thank you.

 

            7                      MR. MCGOFF: Stephanie Gawel.

 

            8                      MS. GAWEL:  Hi, Council, how are you

 

            9              tonight?  I know it's getting long.  Well,

 

           10              it's election season, we all know that, so I

 

           11              thought I would go over a few of the things

 

           12              that I thought should have been worked on

 

           13              that we ended up losing and hopefully make

 

           14              people sit and think.

 

           15                      I want to talk about things that we

 

           16              ended up missing in the last eight years, so

 

           17              I'm going to start like with one thing at a

 

           18              time.  This week it's going to be the South

 

           19              Side complex.  Let's just take a look of one

 

           20              take away for now.  There is going to be

 

           21              more to follow in another time.  The South

 

           22              Side Sports Complex was a jewel.  It was

 

           23              used -- I used to just love go by and just

 

           24              look at the pretty green grass.  It's such a

 

           25              mess now it's not even funny.  The first and


 

 

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            1              only complex in the city with lights,

 

            2              baseball fields, softball field, basketball

 

            3              Court, tennis and volleyball court, along

 

            4              with the concession.  I don't know whether

 

            5              most people know this or not, but the

 

            6              facility was built in the lower flat area to

 

            7              serve the youth of the south and west side

 

            8              area along with adult activities.  This

 

            9              administration made a choice to sell our

 

           10              facility to the University of Scranton in

 

           11              spite of the public outcry and dismay.  He

 

           12              arrogantly thumbed his nose at the people of

 

           13              these neighborhoods when it was -- and went

 

           14              so far as to take it to Court.  He won and

 

           15              thee University got what they wanted.

 

           16                      The sad part about the saying is

 

           17              that the people don't know that the South

 

           18              Side Sports Complex was dedicated in honor

 

           19              and in the memory of William T. Schmidt.

 

           20              The bronze plaque displayed has been missing

 

           21              and has never been found, no attempt has

 

           22              ever been made to replace it.  It's sad

 

           23              enough that the thought enough about this

 

           24              good, well-liked, well-respected mayor that

 

           25              they would honor him with a bronze plaque,


 

 

                                                                     105

 

 

            1              and it was a nice marker, it really was.

 

            2                      The give away of the William T.

 

            3              Schmidt complex has been forgotten, lied for

 

            4              four years that would be replaced and is

 

            5              just that, a lie.  We are still waiting for

 

            6              the replacement park and the replacement

 

            7              lights and we have no idea where it's going.

 

            8              You know, like we are always worried about

 

            9              the youth and yet we keep taking everything

 

           10              away from them where they have no place to

 

           11              go.  I don't understand this man's thinking.

 

           12              To be replaced is a lie.

 

           13                      What this administration should and

 

           14              does understand is that the location of the

 

           15              neighborhoods it served.  The mayor and the

 

           16              University it serves smells like conflict of

 

           17              interest to me.  This is a real, real shame

 

           18              and dishonor to the Scranton Mayor William

 

           19              T. Schmidt and his family.  It's election

 

           20              time.

 

           21                      I was going to ask again but, of

 

           22              course, Mr. Minora isn't here because I was

 

           23              wondering about my buddy Mr. McDowell that

 

           24              we seem to be having fun, so I'll check on

 

           25              that again and I also be back about more


 

 

                                                                     106

 

 

            1              with more public safety police and firemen

 

            2              and another issues that I think need to be

 

            3              put out there.  Thank you very much for your

 

            4              time.  Have a nice night.

 

            5                      MR. MCGOFF: Phyllis Humphries.

 

            6                      MS. HUMPHRIES: Pacha, Freta, salaam

 

            7              aleikum, shalom, (unintelligible) to

 

            8              everybody in the world and here in the City

 

            9              of Scranton.  Greetings to the city council,

 

           10              before I start I would like to ask did all

 

           11              of the city council members take their oath

 

           12              to protect and defend the constitution of

 

           13              the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the

 

           14              constitution of the United States.  Could

 

           15              you answer that, please?

 

           16                      MS. EVANS: Have we taken that?  Yes,

 

           17              we have taken the oath.

 

           18                      MS. HUMPHRIES:  Having said that, I

 

           19              would like to give each member of the city

 

           20              council these documents which I feel will be

 

           21              upheld to each member of the council and the

 

           22              City of Scranton.  Thank you very much.  I

 

           23              hope you take them home and read them very

 

           24              carefully and ponder the words in your

 

           25              hearts and in your mind, conscience and


 

 

                                                                     107

 

 

            1              soul.  Thank you very much everybody and God

 

            2              bless you.

 

            3                      MR. MCGOFF: Jean Suetta.

 

            4                      MS. SUETTA: My name is Jean Suetta.

 

            5              Bill, why do you laugh?  You heard what's

 

            6              his name, you are not supposed to laugh or

 

            7              snicker.

 

            8                      MR. COURTRIGHT: I'm trying not to,

 

            9              Jean, but I can't help it.

 

           10                      MS. SUETTA:  Because you don't know

 

           11              what's going to come out of my mouth.

 

           12                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Absolutely.

 

           13                      MS. SUETTA: Did we get recyclable

 

           14              bins up at Nay Aug.

 

           15                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  I do not think so.

 

           16                      MS. FANUCCI: Not yet we did not.

 

           17                      MS. SUETTA: What would be the hold

 

           18              up?

 

           19                      MS. EVANS: You know, Jeannie, I

 

           20              really don't know what the hold up is

 

           21              because, for example, someone told me that

 

           22              they needed a new recycling bin for their

 

           23              home and they called the DPW recently, and

 

           24              they actually got an answer and someone was

 

           25              very, very polite to them and guess what


 

 

                                                                     108

 

 

            1              that recycling bin was delivered right to

 

            2              their house the very next day, so I think

 

            3              right now we have a chance to get an awful

 

            4              lot of things done and I think we can get

 

            5              those recycling bins up he park.

 

            6                      MS. SUETTA: You think we are going

 

            7              to get them?

 

            8                      MS. EVANS: I think so, it's an

 

            9              election year.

 

           10                      MS. SUETTA: You got that right, but

 

           11              what about Planet Aid.  Those dumpsters all

 

           12              over the God damn city.

 

           13                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Oh, Jean.

 

           14                      MS. SUETTA:  Sorry.  Sorry.  Planet

 

           15              Aid.  There was a big write up in some of

 

           16              these papers?  Are they paying fees?

 

           17                      MR. COURTRIGHT: I don't know.

 

           18                      MS. SUETTA: Now that's three weeks I

 

           19              gave you.  You know, now we got a new one

 

           20              they're putting -- they're white dumpsters

 

           21              and it just says "clothes and shoes" and

 

           22              they are not Planet Aid because Planet Aid

 

           23              are yellow according to their --

 

           24                      MS. FANUCCI: Wait, what's the next

 

           25              one?  What's the other one?


 

 

                                                                     109

 

 

            1                      MS. SUETTA: A white one.

 

            2                      MS. FANUCCI: Do know the name on it?

 

            3                      MS. SUETTA: There is no name on it,

 

            4              there is no number on it, it just says,

 

            5              "Clothes and shoes."  You know, they are

 

            6              sending all of these clothes to that third

 

            7              world country and South Side.

 

            8                      And this Danielle place, the one we

 

            9              are going to give the loan to, 7-A or four,

 

           10              whatever it is, do they make sex toys?

 

           11                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Oh, Jeannie.

 

           12                      MR. MCGOFF: No, Jean, they do not.

 

           13                      MS. SUETTA: Because I would be a

 

           14              customer.

 

           15                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Jeannie, please.

 

           16                      MS. SUETTA: No?  What about Jerry --

 

           17              shut up.  What about Jerry Langan.  You are

 

           18              supposed to shut that off.

 

           19                      MR. COURTRIGHT: It's off, but.

 

           20                      MS. SUETTA:  Why do you keep on

 

           21              pulling it out?

 

           22                      MR. COURTRIGHT: I'm trying to turn

 

           23              off --  we sent the letter.

 

           24                      MS. SUETTA: And?

 

           25                      MR. COURTRIGHT: We didn't get a


 

 

                                                                     110

 

 

            1              response yet.  I don't know what to tell

 

            2              you.

 

            3                      MS. FANUCCI: Jean, that wasn't fair.

 

            4                      MS. SUETTA: Sherry.

 

            5                      MS. FANUCCI: That's not fair, you

 

            6              are going to get me in trouble.

 

            7                      MS. SUETTA:  I know, it's good.  So

 

            8              we are going to find about the recycling, we

 

            9              are going to find out about the fees for

 

           10              Planet Aid, because if they got money to pay

 

           11              the people to put them on their property

 

           12              Scranton should get some money, too.  And

 

           13              now you got to -- shut up, Sherry -- and now

 

           14              you got clothes and shoes and, Bill, they

 

           15              don't even pick the stuff up.

 

           16                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Jean, how am I going

 

           17              to answer you after all of this that just

 

           18              went on.

 

           19                      MS. SUETTA: You don't know.  What?

 

           20                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  Forget it.

 

           21                      MS. SUETTA: Give me an answer.  I

 

           22              got over minutes.

 

           23                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Did we send that

 

           24              to -- letters?

 

           25                      MR. MCGOFF: Jean, how about this, if


 

 

                                                                     111

 

 

            1              you promise to behave I will call

 

            2              Mr. Langan.

 

            3                      MS. SUETTA: No.  No.  No.

 

            4                      MR. MCGOFF: It's not worth it.

 

            5                      MS. SUETTA:  It's not worth it.  I'm

 

            6              not going to change for a phone call,

 

            7              uh-huh.

 

            8                      MR. MCGOFF: I tried.

 

            9                      MS. SUETTA: You have to do more than

 

           10              that.

 

           11                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  Did we send a

 

           12              letter about the Planet Fitness ones or no?

 

           13              Planet Fitness.  Planet Aid.

 

           14                      MS. SUETTA: Planet Aid, Bill.

 

           15              Planet Aid.

 

           16                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Could we ask license

 

           17              and inspection if they have to have permits?

 

           18              Could we do that?

 

           19                      MS. SUETTA: Because, you know, they

 

           20              are taking away from the Salvation Army.

 

           21                      MS. GATELLI: They are like those

 

           22              newspaper things that are tied to the polls.

 

           23                      MS. SUETTA: You know, they are

 

           24              taking away from the Salvation Army because

 

           25              the Salvation Army can't afford to put out


 

 

                                                                     112

 

 

            1              their dumpsters because of the fees and now

 

            2              these people are doing it.

 

            3                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  We will ask.

 

            4                      MS. SUETTA:  When we were flooded

 

            5              the Salvation Army helped us, Planet Aid

 

            6              didn't.  You are getting all the help, Judy.

 

            7                      MS. GATELLI: There is one over by

 

            8              me, Jeannie, it's overflowing and there is

 

            9              bags all around the bottom.

 

           10                      MS. SUETTA:  That's right and you

 

           11              are getting rodents and everything, yeah.

 

           12              Well, they know it's a third world country

 

           13              over there.

 

           14                      MR. MCGOFF: Okay.

 

           15                      MS. SUETTA: All right I'm done.  I

 

           16              have roll over minutes.  You weren't here, I

 

           17              have roll over minutes.

 

           18                      MR. MCGOFF: David Dobson.

 

           19                      MR. DOBSON: Good evening, Council,

 

           20              Dave Dobson, resident of the Scranton.  I

 

           21              was wondering if any response was received

 

           22              on the proposed spray in the East Mountain?

 

           23                      MS. GATELLI:  We did get a response.

 

           24                      MS. FANUCCI:  They got it.

 

           25                      MS. GATELLI:  He is going to notify


 

 

                                                                     113

 

 

            1              us what they are using and what they are

 

            2              going to spray.  He is missing with Phyllis

 

            3              Mish at Matthew Avenue.

 

            4                      MR. DOBSON: I would like to ask

 

            5              council at this time to entertain a motion,

 

            6              if possible, to request that they hire

 

            7              people to go through there and cut those

 

            8              trees and so forth instead of the poison

 

            9              that they want to spray on us.

 

           10                      Now, if I were to go out tonight and

 

           11              say I want to get high on some dope and see

 

           12              if I find a dope peddler he was selling me

 

           13              the poison I was asking for hopefully.  He

 

           14              wouldn't tell me he is going to inject me

 

           15              with a poison that decides I'm going to have

 

           16              to put up with.  So my request is that we

 

           17              just simply have council condemn the whole

 

           18              issue of spraying in populated areas and we

 

           19              don't need their poison.  It's poison.

 

           20              That's why they are spraying it.  It's

 

           21              outright it's just simply poison.

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI: I'm not sure that we

 

           23              would have that jurisdiction, but we will

 

           24              ask Attorney Minora.  They wouldn't be able

 

           25              to use anything that was toxic because --


 

 

                                                                     114

 

 

            1                      MR. DOBSON: Oh, it's toxic.

 

            2                      MS. GATELLI:  But the herbicides

 

            3              that are toxic are off the market and nobody

 

            4              can use them.

 

            5                      MR. DOBSON: Well, I have a little

 

            6              background in chemistry and I venture to

 

            7              said that they wouldn't bother to drink it.

 

            8                      MS. GATELLI: The what?

 

            9                      MR. DOBSON: They wouldn't bother to

 

           10              drink some of it.  It's toxic.  Period.  And

 

           11              there is no reason why they should be

 

           12              spraying it in any neighborhood; and,

 

           13              furthermore, we don't need any more

 

           14              defoliated strips up and down our landscape.

 

           15              What next, are they going to spray it on

 

           16              West Mountain when they put their power line

 

           17              and ship all out all their power out to New

 

           18              York City?

 

           19                      Did you see the letter from Governor

 

           20              Scranton in the paper Sunday?  I mean,

 

           21              that's just the ploy to say, well, oh, well,

 

           22              you know, we need to put a big power line

 

           23              in, they have the right-of-way to run

 

           24              through there, so what are we going to have

 

           25              next the big -- a big strip cut out of West


 

 

                                                                     115

 

 

            1              Mountain and we are going to use herbicides

 

            2              and we have landslides and everything else

 

            3              from the -- I don't agree with these major

 

            4              corporations just telling us what they're

 

            5              going to do.

 

            6                      MS. GATELLI:  I agree with you.

 

            7                      MR. DOBSON: And there is nothing you

 

            8              people have to be ashamed of except if you

 

            9              don't act on it, you know.

 

           10                      MS. EVANS: Mr. Dobson I was, which

 

           11              I'm talk about later, I was actually present

 

           12              at the meeting that was held last night

 

           13              between the residents of Matthew Avenue and

 

           14              representative of PPL, so I'll try to update

 

           15              everyone as best I can and it's still an

 

           16              ongoing issue, nothing has been written in

 

           17              stone at this point and to be -- well, even

 

           18              if it was not nonbinding I would really love

 

           19              to see a letter of disapproval from council.

 

           20              It's like I said, if I went out and bought

 

           21              dope off a dope peddler, I mean, hopefully

 

           22              he would be selling me the poison I asked

 

           23              for, not the poison I was getting told I was

 

           24              getting sprayed with, you know.

 

           25              It's totally ridiculous.


 

 

                                                                     116

 

 

            1                      And I would like to say last week

 

            2              there were a lot of things, changing the

 

            3              issue, on the parade.  Well, in 1972 I met a

 

            4              girl at the parade, four years later I

 

            5              married her, and a couple of years back we

 

            6              used to whoop it up maybe more than what we

 

            7              should have, but I always appreciated the

 

            8              parade and my wife looks forward to it more

 

            9              so than our anniversary.  We still are

 

           10              confused, we have to dig up our marriage

 

           11              license whether it's the 3rd or 5th, so in

 

           12              spite of, you know, a few negative things

 

           13              happening and it's sad that somebody gets

 

           14              too intoxicated, but, you know, the last

 

           15              thing we need is an area -- a whole big city

 

           16              full of nothing to do.

 

           17                      I lived up the country for 25 years,

 

           18              it's boring.  By the time you get home you

 

           19              have a whole countryside full of nothing to

 

           20              do, and people fighting over 400 acres

 

           21              instead of a quarter of an acre of lawn, you

 

           22              know, so thank you and have a good night.

 

           23                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you.

 

           24                      MR. DOBSON: Thumbs up, Mr. McGoff,

 

           25              for defending the parade last week.  I think


 

 

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            1              we need to let off some steam in this town

 

            2              instead of after a long winter.  Have a good

 

            3              night.

 

            4                      MR. MCGOFF: Lee Morgan.

 

            5                      MR. MORGAN: Good evening, Council.

 

            6              I have a question for Mrs. Gatelli and for

 

            7              Mrs. Fanucci, and that question is I am just

 

            8              curious, are you going to show up at the

 

            9              Scranton/Lackawanna Taxpayers' on Thursday

 

           10              for the discussion with the candidates?

 

           11                      MS. GATELLI: No, I will not be

 

           12              present.

 

           13                      MR. MORGAN:  Will you, Mrs. Fanucci?

 

           14                      MS. FANUCCI: No, I'm actually,

 

           15              having my party that night, so I already had

 

           16              plans, but thank you.

 

           17                      MR. MORGAN: I just thought I'd ask

 

           18              so maybe in the people in the community

 

           19              would know whether you were or not since

 

           20              everybody else has replied at this point.

 

           21                      MS. FANUCCI: My computer was down,

 

           22              too, and I'm sorry about that.  I actually

 

           23              received it today.  Thank you.

 

           24                      MR. MORGAN: Okay.  Thank you.  Well,

 

           25              you know, I just want to briefly touch on


 

 

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            1              very briefly on the situation with the

 

            2              Scranton Fire Department, and that is that

 

            3              there seems to have been an awful lot of

 

            4              money for all of the special interests over

 

            5              the courses of this administration, and I

 

            6              don't want to pick on this administration

 

            7              only because this is an election year, but I

 

            8              don't think that any resident in this city

 

            9              should be denied adequate fire protection or

 

           10              police protection and I just think that

 

           11              maybe this council should stand firm and

 

           12              just refuse to have anything done, nothing

 

           13              against what you said, Mrs. Evans, about an

 

           14              independent study, I don't think me

 

           15              personally speaking I'm not interested in an

 

           16              independent study, okay?  I want -- I'm not

 

           17              interested in somebody coming here or trying

 

           18              to surmise what we need because evidently we

 

           19              have taken a lot of cuts to the fire

 

           20              department and my own opinion, I'm not a

 

           21              firemen, and I really don't -- I can't

 

           22              really say for sure what we need in the way

 

           23              of fire protection, but the one thing I do

 

           24              know is that we don't need anymore cuts and

 

           25              if there is money for all of these jobs to


 

 

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            1              be created for everybody else than there is

 

            2              absolutely no way we should cut any fire

 

            3              personal irregardless of politics in any

 

            4              manner whatsoever.

 

            5                      And to go over off that subject, I

 

            6              would like to say something on, well, on the

 

            7              Comcast franchise fee because sooner or

 

            8              later council is probably going to interact

 

            9              hopefully with the mayor and try to come up

 

           10              with a plan on how to proceed and, you know,

 

           11              I stopped and I looked in council's budget

 

           12              and I pulled a number of $780,000 for the

 

           13              franchise fee.  Now, that's the figure I

 

           14              took out of your budget, and what I would

 

           15              like to see done with this money even though

 

           16              I think that the next franchise fee should

 

           17              raise much more revenue than that, probably

 

           18              twice this much, okay, and there is a reason

 

           19              for that, and it may not be just with the

 

           20              franchise fee, it may be a one-time gift to

 

           21              our public access channel, plus the

 

           22              franchise fee because when those individuals

 

           23              came in from Comcast they said that they

 

           24              would be give a grant, a one-time grant in

 

           25              the negotiations that they had to plus the


 

 

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            1              franchise fee, but what I would like to see

 

            2              happen to this franchise fee is I would like

 

            3              see a three-way split on that.  I would like

 

            4              to see the public access channel get a

 

            5              third, I would also like to see a youth

 

            6              program get a third and I'd also like to see

 

            7              senior citizens' centers located inside of

 

            8              the City of Scranton get a third, and that

 

            9              way we what do is we take a franchise fee,

 

           10              which the community is paying for, and we

 

           11              disburse it amongst the individuals in the

 

           12              community.

 

           13                      The other thing I would like to see

 

           14              as part of this negotiation is a low cost

 

           15              package, an entry package with -- I'm not

 

           16              saying enhanced channels, but maybe

 

           17              educational channels for children, some --

 

           18              the public service Channel 61, maybe a

 

           19              couple of other channels which aren't

 

           20              broadcast channels here in a low cost

 

           21              package for the residents of the city, so

 

           22              that everybody is going to get a benefit

 

           23              from this franchise agreement and not just

 

           24              as a revenue enhancement for the city but as

 

           25              a, I don't know, some kind of benefit to the


 

 

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            1              general public in the city instead of just

 

            2              worrying about are we going to raise more

 

            3              money can we raise revenue through a

 

            4              franchise fee.  I think the money needs to

 

            5              either be spread out amongst the community

 

            6              and for the people who view 61 I think they

 

            7              should get a benefit.

 

            8                      Now, I think we have to realize that

 

            9              there's a lot more tied to this franchise

 

           10              fee than most people may realize because you

 

           11              can get phone service through that and you

 

           12              can get Internet service, so they are

 

           13              raising an awful lot more money than they

 

           14              would probably like to admit, and then they

 

           15              are saying we can only get a percentage of

 

           16              the cable revenue, and I just think that we

 

           17              need to structure this so that we realize

 

           18              the amount of profit and business they are

 

           19              doing inside of the city parameters

 

           20              boundaries by having that franchise, and I

 

           21              think it's important for this council to

 

           22              interact with the mayor and get a good deal

 

           23              for all of the residents.  Thank you.

 

           24                      MS. SCHUMACHER: Marie Schumacher.

 

           25                      MS. GATELLI:  Mr. Morgan, just for


 

 

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            1              the record, we did check that out about

 

            2              getting the fees for the Internet and it's

 

            3              against the FCC laws.

 

            4                      MR. MORGAN: No, I'm aware of that.

 

            5                      MS. SCHUMACHER: Good evening.  Marie

 

            6              Schumacher, city resident and member of the

 

            7              Taxpayers' Association.  Last year the

 

            8              Pennsylvania House passed legislation

 

            9              HB-2018 that would provide financial

 

           10              assistant to municipalities for the tax

 

           11              exempt properties located within the

 

           12              municipality.  The Bill would distribute --

 

           13              would have distributed the revenue of the

 

           14              Johnstown flood tax to municipalities with

 

           15              high levels of tax exempt property.  To

 

           16              qualify, a municipality that assessed value

 

           17              of tax exempt properties must equal-- would

 

           18              have had to equal or exceed 15 percent of

 

           19              the total.  Today's Court notes note that

 

           20              the University of Scranton has gobbled up

 

           21              several more properties:  3006, 3008, 3013

 

           22              and 3016 Mulberry Street and 1409 and 1411

 

           23              Linden Street.

 

           24                      A recent compilation I did on the

 

           25              past month's worth of obituaries showed that


 

 

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            1              the Scranton hospital deaths numbered 78 and

 

            2              51 or 65 percent were from municipalities

 

            3              other than Scranton.  If this ratio holds

 

            4              true for the entire hospital population

 

            5              Scranton city taxpayers backs are breaking

 

            6              to offset the property tax free hospitals

 

            7              and other nonprofit institutions while the

 

            8              outlining residents benefit both by having

 

            9              the access to our city services and by

 

           10              having lower property taxes in their own

 

           11              communities.

 

           12                      Therefore, I urge you to petition

 

           13              our state representative to renew the

 

           14              legislation that was proposed by HB-2018 and

 

           15              to provide the Johnstown flood funds as we

 

           16              are significantly over the 15 percent

 

           17              threshold.

 

           18                      Number two:  On the wildlife center,

 

           19              there was an article in Sundays

 

           20              Times-Tribune that described an enrichment

 

           21              program to keep animals in the Providence,

 

           22              Rhode Island zoo mentally and physically

 

           23              healthy.  As this animal enrichment is

 

           24              relatively new, I'm proud to say our Genesis

 

           25              Wildlife Center has been conducting these


 

 

                                                                     124

 

 

            1              enrichment programs for their animals since

 

            2              their inception.

 

            3                      I was also happy to read into

 

            4              today's letter to the editor in the

 

            5              Times-Tribune that federal and state

 

            6              inspectors have certified the Genesis

 

            7              Wildlife Center center and they have passed

 

            8              inspection.

 

            9                      Now, the mayor spent the $175,000

 

           10              that the state allocated for the Genesis

 

           11              Wildlife Center and spent the entire amount

 

           12              on architectural renderings and studies for

 

           13              a new Genesis Wildlife Center.  I would like

 

           14              to ask you all when that facility is going

 

           15              to be constructed?

 

           16                      Next, the forensic audit of the

 

           17              Single Tax Office.  I am disappointed with

 

           18              the audit report, but happy see it was

 

           19              available on-line for all to read.  If

 

           20              exceeding a department's budget and taking

 

           21              money from other entity's revenue to cover

 

           22              the losses isn't theft I'd like to know

 

           23              exactly what it is.

 

           24                      The other area unmentioned, except

 

           25              tonight it was touched upon, deals with the


 

 

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            1              $2 million loss.  I cannot believe

 

            2              $2 million disappeared due to accounting

 

            3              errors.  Is it not just as likely that some

 

            4              accounts were marked paid but were actually

 

            5              unpaid for almost a decade?  That seems more

 

            6              plausible to me than accounting errors if

 

            7              some accounts were marked paid and, in fact,

 

            8              were not paid and we learned tonight that

 

            9              that, in fact, is the case.

 

           10                      Next, the Ice Box, on April 27,

 

           11              2006, the city council tabled a resolution

 

           12              to approve the contract that was drawn up by

 

           13              the Redevelopment Authority.  Section 20 of

 

           14              the attached agreement to that resolution

 

           15              stated that time is of the essence in the

 

           16              performance of this agreement, so I would

 

           17              like to know since you all tabled that for

 

           18              some reason if council has requested a

 

           19              revised contract be drawn up by the

 

           20              Redevelopment Authority so that can be

 

           21              executed and we can start receiving the

 

           22              $600,00 that BRT Ice owes the city and that

 

           23              would go along way to helping balance our

 

           24              2009 budget.  Will something be done in that

 

           25              regard?


 

 

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            1                      MS. GATELLI:  I did request that

 

            2              from Mrs. Garvey, and I was going to have

 

            3              Mr. Minora review it, but he is not here

 

            4              this evening, so --

 

            5                      MS. SCHUMACHER: No, but back in 2006

 

            6              did anybody -- when you tabled that motion

 

            7              and never brought it back did you send it

 

            8              back to -- for whatever reason it was

 

            9              tabled?  Did you ask the Redevelopment

 

           10              Authority to come up with another agreement

 

           11              that would be acceptable to council?

 

           12                      MS. FANUCCI:  Actually --

 

           13                      MS. GATELLI: You can't.  An

 

           14              agreement was signed by council.

 

           15                      MS. FANUCCI: The agreement was

 

           16              signed, yeah.

 

           17                      MS. GATELLI: We can't ask them to do

 

           18              another agreement.  They signed it for that

 

           19              agreement.

 

           20                      MS. SCHUMACHER: I believe that --

 

           21                      MS. GATELLI: The developer signed it

 

           22              and city council signed it.  We can't do

 

           23              another one.

 

           24                      MS. SCHUMACHER:  I believe you can

 

           25              ask them to revise that if it's not


 

 

                                                                     127

 

 

            1              acceptable to you.

 

            2                      MS. FANUCCI:  They actually were

 

            3              doing more than they had to do at that

 

            4              point.

 

            5                      MS. SCHUMACHER: No, but they weren't

 

            6              paying.  They weren't paying.  The original

 

            7              -- what was publicized to the public in the

 

            8              beginning, and then I'll finish up, was they

 

            9              were to pay a dollar a year lease until --

 

           10                      MS. GATELLI: For 99 years.

 

           11                      MS. SCHUMACHER: No, but until that

 

           12              DPW moved out, and then the 100 -- the

 

           13              original $600,000 was to and paid.  That's

 

           14              what the public was told back then.  Now we

 

           15              are being told, no, it's only $20,000, no

 

           16              interest over 30 years.

 

           17                      MS. GATELLI:  That's what he had

 

           18              offered us.

 

           19                      MS. FANUCCI:  He had offered us.

 

           20                      MS. GATELLI:  I'm sorry I didn't

 

           21              bring it with me.

 

           22                      MS. SCHUMACHER: Well, something

 

           23              needs to be done and I look forward to

 

           24              hearing about that next week and thank you.

 

           25                      MS. GATELLI:  I'll bring it with me.


 

 

                                                                     128

 

 

            1                      MS. SCHUMACHER: Thank you.

 

            2                      MR. MCGOFF: Brett McCloe.

 

            3                      MR. MCCLOE: Good evening.  My name

 

            4              is Brett McCloe, Scranton taxpayer.  With

 

            5              elections just around the corner I suspect

 

            6              the vast majority will be intimidated by the

 

            7              complexities of the issues that face our

 

            8              city.  Some will vote for the simplicity of

 

            9              sameness and the promise of shiny things

 

           10              that tend to warp one's perception of

 

           11              progress.  Others, will vote for kitchen

 

           12              table logic, fiscal responsibility and the

 

           13              abandonment of the thinking that we could

 

           14              leverage our way out of Scranton's economic

 

           15              difficulties.  And most will be too confused

 

           16              and apathetic to vote at all.

 

           17                      As citizens of this city, we all

 

           18              have a stake in the outcome of these

 

           19              elections.  I could only speak for myself as

 

           20              someone who grew up in Scranton I would not

 

           21              consider myself politically correct, a role

 

           22              model, an altar boy or someone more learned

 

           23              than anyone else, just a citizen who wants

 

           24              to make a difference no matter how small

 

           25              that difference is, so I vote.  I won't tell


 

 

                                                                     129

 

 

            1              you who I will vote for, but I will tell you

 

            2              what and why.  I vote for extreme fiscal

 

            3              discipline on the part of our city

 

            4              government to ensure that our future is

 

            5              based on our ability to stand competent and

 

            6              unwavering without the crutch of PEL and

 

            7              municipal welfare.  I will not vote for an

 

            8              AIG-style mindset that believes city

 

            9              management deserves a raise as Scranton, the

 

           10              company, gets bailed out by state and

 

           11              federal tax dollars.

 

           12                      I also have a hard time with the if

 

           13              we don't take it someone else will kind of

 

           14              thinking.  It makes us sound like we are the

 

           15              fat kid at the buffet gobbling up all the

 

           16              tax desserts.  It's not hard to conceive

 

           17              that what we take for someone's political

 

           18              gain today will hurt us when we need it

 

           19              tomorrow.  By then it will be too much too

 

           20              late.  We have gladly taken more than our

 

           21              share of the pie and have nothing but empty

 

           22              buildings, "For sale" signs, self-indulgent

 

           23              pork projects and a massive debt to show for

 

           24              it.  Have we become the pork capital of

 

           25              Pennsylvania, the AIG of the northeast.  I


 

 

                                                                     130

 

 

            1              don't know, but I think it's time we unravel

 

            2              some of this mess that we can't see and that

 

            3              we can't touch.

 

            4                      The nature of the state and federal

 

            5              government is changing and at some point

 

            6              there will be consequences for the amount of

 

            7              pork received and lack of fiscal

 

            8              responsibility on the part of our current

 

            9              administration.  Scranton cannot afford to

 

           10              wait for a distant train to pay for today's

 

           11              bills.  The train, the medical school, and

 

           12              the parks are supposed to be wonderful

 

           13              additions to our city, not the saviors of

 

           14              it.  Thank you.

 

           15                      MR. MCGOFF: John Judd.

 

           16                      MR. JUDGE:  Good evening, Council.

 

           17              My name is John Judge, and I'm the secretary

 

           18              for IFF Local 60, the Scranton Firefighters.

 

           19              I think this is probably only about the

 

           20              third time I have been here.  Excuse me, I'm

 

           21              just getting over a cold.  I just wanted to

 

           22              clear up a couple of misconceptions and some

 

           23              things that President Schreiber hit on

 

           24              today.  First one I wanted to clear up,

 

           25              watched on the news yesterday and watched


 

 

                                                                     131

 

 

            1              Mr. -- Mayor Doherty state how he believes

 

            2              that the firefighters dislike him.  I'd like

 

            3              everybody in this room, especially council,

 

            4              to not confuse our community activism as a

 

            5              sign of hate, but more of, you know, it's a

 

            6              love of our profession and our community is

 

            7              why we do this.  We want to keep ourself

 

            8              safe and we want to, you know, ensure that

 

            9              the safety of the public is first and

 

           10              foremost as well, and you kind of got to

 

           11              look at it from our perspective.  Over the

 

           12              past I believe it's seven years I have been

 

           13              on the department I have heard numbers range

 

           14              from where the mayor wants to go with our

 

           15              fire department anywhere from 38 layoffs,

 

           16              which he had said recently shortly after the

 

           17              Commonwealth Court decision came out, and

 

           18              then yesterday I believe on Channel 22 the

 

           19              mayor told him no layoffs, that he was going

 

           20              to go to 130 through attrition.

 

           21                      The other things that everybody --

 

           22              and I heard some of the speakers tonight

 

           23              talk about, you know, they don't want to see

 

           24              any fire department layoffs or reductions in

 

           25              numbers, just so everybody is aware this


 

 

                                                                     132

 

 

            1              fire department has already seen eight

 

            2              numbers dwindle.  We were at 150 a year ago,

 

            3              we are now at 142 and the mayor has no plans

 

            4              to replace those eight people, so we are

 

            5              actually working below staffing levels that

 

            6              we were working a year ago.  So, yes, we are

 

            7              working, you know, less now.

 

            8                      The big thing with all of the signs

 

            9              and the company closures, Engine 4, which is

 

           10              the engine here at fire headquarters, and

 

           11              Engine 9 which is the other one that

 

           12              Mr. Renda and also I believe Director Hayes

 

           13              and Chief Davis stated they would like to

 

           14              combine or close, I find it very, I don't

 

           15              want to say funny, but I find it hard to

 

           16              understand how the mayor has invested so

 

           17              much money in the downtown area, but yet is

 

           18              he willing to close the two companies that

 

           19              cover the downtown area.  Any box alarm

 

           20              right where we are sitting right now the two

 

           21              engines that are assigned to that initial

 

           22              box alarm are Engine 4 and Engine 9 and now

 

           23              we are talking about closing them and as we

 

           24              continue to sink millions of dollars into

 

           25              this downtown area to revitalize it, in the


 

 

                                                                     133

 

 

            1              same breath we are going to go ahead and

 

            2              shut down these two engine companies.  It

 

            3              makes no sense to me whatsoever.

 

            4                      I understand the fiscal constraints

 

            5              and concerns that the mayor has to deal

 

            6              with, but we need to be logical about how we

 

            7              do this.  If you want to go and open up a

 

            8              new business what do they ask for, the bank?

 

            9              They ask for a business plan.  Once you have

 

           10              put that business plan down you go ahead and

 

           11              implement it.  You don't implement first and

 

           12              they do the plan, which is what they are

 

           13              trying to do.  They are trying to go, all

 

           14              right, we want to have 130 firefighters,

 

           15              now, how do we accomplish it, which

 

           16              companies do we have to close?

 

           17                      Anybody who can't understand it at

 

           18              an election time that the mayor is kind of,

 

           19              you know, he is in a difficult position

 

           20              where he doesn't want to tell people he is

 

           21              going to close the engine companies or

 

           22              doesn't want to say he is going to close

 

           23              firehouses, you need to know that.  Not on

 

           24              May 20 or whatever the day after the

 

           25              election, we need to know that as a


 

 

                                                                     134

 

 

            1              community now, and how we are going to make

 

            2              that work if he is going to do that.

 

            3                      You know, for him to outright say,

 

            4              "I'm not going to close companies, I'm not

 

            5              going to close stations," this close to an

 

            6              election where he is on record on

 

            7              August 31st of 2008 saying, "I'm going to

 

            8              close three to four of the fire stations in

 

            9              this community."

 

           10                      It is just very baffling to us to

 

           11              not know what direction this department is

 

           12              heading in.  We need to be able to be

 

           13              prepared for what's going to happen so that

 

           14              we can continue to protect and serve this

 

           15              community.  I would ask council if you have

 

           16              questions or concerns or want to speak, you

 

           17              know, the firefighters we can come in and

 

           18              make it, you know, kind of spell it out a

 

           19              little bit better to you, President

 

           20              Schreiber only had five minutes to kind of

 

           21              explain to you the difference between an

 

           22              engine company and a ladder company, he had

 

           23              to make it very simplistic though, it's not

 

           24              that simplistic.  It's a tried and true

 

           25              tested technique that's employed through the


 

 

                                                                     135

 

 

            1              fire service all over the nation.

 

            2                      They have talked about quints, you

 

            3              know, we have people talking about entities

 

            4              and different types of pieces of apparatus

 

            5              that really don't have a full understanding

 

            6              that if you look at some of the communities

 

            7              in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that

 

            8              have tried that, Philadelphia, for instance,

 

            9              Philadelphia attempted to use a quint-type

 

           10              of system, abandoned it because it doesn't

 

           11              work.  So we are, you know, if you guys need

 

           12              to know or want to know or be better

 

           13              educated I'm sure that anybody on our

 

           14              executive board would feel, you know,

 

           15              obliged to come in in a caucus, you know,

 

           16              even at your office, anytime.  I would be

 

           17              willing to come in and speak to you on the

 

           18              matter.  Thank you.

 

           19                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you, Mr. Judge.

 

           20              Other speakers?

 

           21                      MR. GERVASI:  Good evening, City

 

           22              Council.  My name is Dave Gervasi, I'm also

 

           23              a firefighter in the City of Scranton.  Just

 

           24              to add what my two colleagues have said

 

           25              earlier, this has been a story that's been


 

 

                                                                     136

 

 

            1              unfolding for seven years.  There has been

 

            2              millions of dollars spent on both sides

 

            3              fighting it and being in Court and I just

 

            4              need to let you know our perspective about

 

            5              this.  I have been coming to this council

 

            6              meetings probably longer than anybody on the

 

            7              fire department, and we told you a long time

 

            8              ago, prior councils a long time ago, the

 

            9              mayor's intention was always to reduce the

 

           10              amount of firefighters and to close

 

           11              firehouses and more companies.  He said it

 

           12              in the Recovery Plan.  Why would we have

 

           13              language in the Recovery Plan that says he

 

           14              wants the sole discretion to make any cuts

 

           15              and restructuring of the department.  If he

 

           16              had no intention of closing anything why

 

           17              would that be in the Recovery Plan?

 

           18                      Back in 2002 he said he is going to

 

           19              reduce the fire department, size of the fire

 

           20              department.  In 2004 he said he is going to

 

           21              reduce the size of the fire department.  In

 

           22              2005 he actually started talking about

 

           23              layoffs.  In 2006 he was talking about

 

           24              layoffs and reducing the size of the fire

 

           25              department.


 

 

                                                                     137

 

 

            1                      We weren't coming here because we

 

            2              enjoy it every week, we were telling you

 

            3              this is going to happen.  We fought him off

 

            4              for seven years.  Now is reality time.  They

 

            5              won a portion of the battle he took us on,

 

            6              the war we have been at for seven years.  He

 

            7              won a portion of it.  And we weren't lying

 

            8              when we said he was going to reduce the fire

 

            9              department.  The other night on -- I'm

 

           10              sorry, it was January 9, he finally said it:

 

           11              "I'm going to build superstations."

 

           12                      Do you know what that means?  You

 

           13              have any understanding what that means?  A

 

           14              superstation is going to build a big

 

           15              building on this side of the river and a big

 

           16              building on that side of the river and all

 

           17              of your neighborhood fire stations are going

 

           18              to close.  That's his plan.  That's always

 

           19              been his plan, and then a week later he says

 

           20              we are going to reduce not to 112 now, now

 

           21              it's 130 because apparently they don't have

 

           22              a plan.

 

           23                      The first thing that the city did

 

           24              was we said nobody has the qualifications to

 

           25              make these decisions that he has in the


 

 

                                                                     138

 

 

            1              leadership and it's obvious to everybody,

 

            2              the first thing he said was we need the

 

            3              unions cooperation.  He spent nearly

 

            4              $2 million to get complete utter control

 

            5              with no input whatsoever from the

 

            6              firefighters' union and the first thing they

 

            7              do when they win and they have control is

 

            8              they say, "Can you come and help us?"

 

            9                      And we basically told the mayor and

 

           10              the public safety director that would be

 

           11              like us building the gallows that are going

 

           12              to hang our guys and hang the public.  They

 

           13              are in charge now, let them be in charge.

 

           14              The other sad part about the whole thing was

 

           15              in the beginning, if you read the Recovery

 

           16              Plan, the mayor said there will be no

 

           17              studies, safety impact studies.  He said,

 

           18              "I'm the mayor, I will decide what the fire

 

           19              departments are going to look like."

 

           20                      And we said that's probably foolish

 

           21              and that's probably negligent, that's

 

           22              another reason why we fought the Recovery

 

           23              Plan.  Now, all of a sudden he wins in

 

           24              court.  He is going to do a study.  If he

 

           25              told us that seven years ago we wouldn't


 

 

                                                                     139

 

 

            1              have had this labor unrest for the last

 

            2              seven years, but now he is in trouble

 

            3              because now, hey, we are the dummies.  Now,

 

            4              he beat us, he wins, take control of the

 

            5              fire department.  Frankly, he has nobody to

 

            6              control the fire department, just like we

 

            7              have been saying for seven years.

 

            8                      The other sad part, Mrs. Gatelli,

 

            9              I'm sorry, I'm not going to let you off the

 

           10              hook tonight, I understand and I appreciate

 

           11              when you fought for Engine 13 and I know you

 

           12              probably will do for it now if he tries to

 

           13              close the engine company, but I told you for

 

           14              years, I told you at your house when we had

 

           15              meetings at your house, as long as you keep

 

           16              giving Chris Doherty all of the money that

 

           17              railed our budgets for 46 million to

 

           18              approximately $80 million now, there is not

 

           19              going to be any money for the fire

 

           20              department, and week after week every time

 

           21              he sends legislation up the three of you

 

           22              say, "We got to pay this for the mayor."

 

           23                      Now is crying poverty.

 

           24                      MS. GATELLI:  Excuse me, but I don't

 

           25              pass it for the mayor, I pass because I


 

 

                                                                     140

 

 

            1              believe in what I'm passing.

 

            2                      MR. GERVASI: Okay.

 

            3                      MS. GATELLI: I'm not doing it for

 

            4              the mayor.

 

            5                      MR. GERVASI: So a 17 million dollar

 

            6              loan, a point 5.5 million dollar loan, a

 

            7              70 million dollar loan, I'm not sure if you

 

            8              were on council at that one.

 

            9                      MS. GATELLI: No, I wasn't.

 

           10              Mr. DiBileo voted for loans.  Mr. Courtright

 

           11              voted for loans.

 

           12                      MR. GERVASI: I'm not talking

 

           13              about --

 

           14                      MS. GATELLI: You know, I'm not the

 

           15              only one that voted for loans.

 

           16                      MR. GERVASI: But you are the one who

 

           17              says you are for the fire department and you

 

           18              want --

 

           19                      MS. GATELLI: I am.

 

           20                      MR. GERVASI: -- and you're not for

 

           21              closures.

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI: And I am.

 

           23                      MR. GERVASI: What do you think is

 

           24              causing these closures?  It was a rubber

 

           25              stamp of his legislation --


 

 

                                                                     141

 

 

            1                      MS. GATELLI:  No, I don't believe

 

            2              that.

 

            3                      MR. GERVASI:  -- that kept giving

 

            4              him money.

 

            5                      MS. GATELLI: I don't agree with

 

            6              that.

 

            7                      MR. GERVASI:  There is only so much

 

            8              money comes in and only so much money can go

 

            9              out.  His priority is not the fire

 

           10              department.  His priority was bridges to

 

           11              nowhere and treehouses and paying five times

 

           12              more than he should have for a dog park.

 

           13              That's where the money went.  No big

 

           14              contracts and an army of lawyers.

 

           15                      MS. GATELLI:  Since I'm here

 

           16              everything has been bid, Dave, I insisted on

 

           17              that.  Everything went out to bid.

 

           18                      MR. GERVASI: Our debt payments --

 

           19                      MS. GATELLI:  I'm sorry, you feel

 

           20              that way, but I don't feel that way.

 

           21                      MR. GERVASI: -- went from --

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI: I will never fight the

 

           23              firemen.

 

           24                      MS. GERVASI: -- 3.45 million dollars

 

           25              a year when he took office to $16 million a


 

 

                                                                     142

 

 

            1              year today and he has traced --

 

            2                      MS. GATELLI: And the school district

 

            3              is the same and the county is the same and

 

            4              the whole country is the same.

 

            5                      MR. GERVASI: I'm finished right now.

 

            6                      MS. GATELLI: It doesn't mean I'm not

 

            7              for firehouses, and I'm not going to let you

 

            8              say it.

 

            9                      MR. GERVASI: But you can't have it

 

           10              both ways.

 

           11                      MS. GATELLI:  Yes, you can.

 

           12                      MR. GERVASI: And what he is doing

 

           13              now, now our debt payments are so high with

 

           14              the debt he created to over $270 million in

 

           15              debt and now he is crying poverty that he

 

           16              has to save money.  So instead of getting

 

           17              rid of your Rolls Royce or your swimming

 

           18              pool he is going to cancel his fire

 

           19              insurance on the people of the city.

 

           20                      MR. MCGOFF: Thank you.

 

           21                      MR. GERVASI: It's ashame.  Thank

 

           22              you.

 

           23                      MR. MCGOFF: Any other speakers?

 

           24                      MR. HUBBARD:  At this point in the

 

           25              night we are just going to nail it down to


 

 

                                                                     143

 

 

            1              one question and one comment, ECTV

 

            2              programming, I do appreciate the Scranton

 

            3              traffic report at 11:30 at night.  Big help.

 

            4                      Now, council, and especially Judy

 

            5              since you are the finance chair, what do you

 

            6              guys do to plan -- do you plan to do to plug

 

            7              the hole in the budget?

 

            8                      MS. GATELLI: There is not a hole in

 

            9              the budget until December 31.  Stu Renda is

 

           10              very confident that we are going to get the

 

           11              money.

 

           12                      MR. HUBBARD: He was been confident

 

           13              before the audit that you are going to get

 

           14              it even though the audit said --

 

           15                      MS. GATELLI:  Right.  The money is

 

           16              there.  The money is there.

 

           17                      MR. HUBBARD: Even the audit said

 

           18              differently and Mr. McGovern said that you

 

           19              are probably not going to see any of the

 

           20              money until 2010 and --

 

           21                      MS. GATELLI: No, he didn't say that.

 

           22                      MR. FANUCCI:  He said 2009 actually

 

           23              if you --

 

           24                      MR. HUBBARD: He said the end of

 

           25              2000.


 

 

                                                                     144

 

 

            1                      MS. FANUCCI: He said by the year end

 

            2              we will.

 

            3                      MR. HUBBARD: By the year end so in

 

            4              my mind there is actually five million in

 

            5              the budget that's not there.

 

            6                      MS. FANUCCI: No.

 

            7                      MR. HUBBARD: Well, have you received

 

            8              any of it yet?

 

            9                      MS. FANUCCI: Well, we just got the

 

           10              audit like two days ago.  He said it will

 

           11              come increments, it will come in our normal

 

           12              tax, you know.

 

           13                      MR. HUBBARD: He said it will be --

 

           14                      MS. FANUCCI: It's not going to com

 

           15              in one lump sum, it's not going to pay us

 

           16              off.

 

           17                      MR. HUBBARD: And he said it will

 

           18              come in the regular disbursements.

 

           19                      MS. FANUCCI: Yes, every two weeks.

 

           20                      MR. HUBBARD: But not this year.

 

           21              That's what I'm here.

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI:  You are wrong.

 

           23                      MS. FANUCCI: You're wrong.

 

           24                      MR. HUBBARD:  I wasn't coming

 

           25              tonight, guys.  I was actually watching this


 

 

                                                                     145

 

 

            1              --

 

            2                      MS. FANUCCI: You heard wrong.  Dan,

 

            3              you heard wrong so you have should have

 

            4              stayed home.  You heard wrong.

 

            5                      MR. HUBBARD: Excuse me?

 

            6                      MS. FANUCCI: You should have stayed

 

            7              home if that was the only reason you came.

 

            8                      MR. MCGOFF: Please.

 

            9                      MR. HUBBARD: Mrs. Fanucci, I am not

 

           10              showing you any disrespect.

 

           11                      MR. MCGOFF: Please.

 

           12                      MS. FANUCCI: And I'm telling you if

 

           13              that was the only reason you were wrong.

 

           14                      MR. HUBBARD: I'm not showing you any

 

           15              disrespect.  I'm not showing you disrespect.

 

           16                      MS. FANUCCI: You are wrong is all

 

           17              I'm telling you.

 

           18                      MR. MCGOFF: Please.

 

           19                      MR. HUBBARD: That's right.  Don't

 

           20              tell me I should have stayed home.  I'm not

 

           21              showing you disrespect.

 

           22                      MS. FANUCCI: You said you only

 

           23              came --

 

           24                      MR. HUBBARD: Your biggest problem is

 

           25              you don't know how to give people respect.


 

 

                                                                     146

 

 

            1              You should sit there and let me finish, it's

 

            2              my time to speak, not yours.

 

            3                      MS. FANUCCI: Then don't ask for

 

            4              questions that you don't want answers fro.

 

            5                      MR. HUBBARD: I was asking Mrs.

 

            6              Gatelli who is the finance chair, not --

 

            7                      MS. FANUCCI:  Daniel, you never come

 

            8              here and keep your cool.

 

            9                      MR. HUBBARD: Mrs. Fanucci, what are

 

           10              you doing?

 

           11                      MR. MCGOFF: Please.

 

           12                      MR. HUBBARD: What are you doing

 

           13              right now?

 

           14                      MS. FANUCCI: Talking to you, Daniel.

 

           15                      MR. HUBBARD: I didn't ask you.  I

 

           16              asked Judy.  You are not the finance chair.

 

           17              If you are there then maybe Judy should let

 

           18              you have the job.

 

           19                      MS. GATELLI: I would gladly give it

 

           20              up.

 

           21                      MR. HUBBARD: If I'm wrong then I

 

           22              stand corrected, but that's not your

 

           23              position --

 

           24                      MS. GATELLI: Mrs. Evans was smart

 

           25              though, she gave it up for the election.


 

 

                                                                     147

 

 

            1                      MR. MCGOFF: Could we --

 

            2                      MR. HUBBARD:  That's not your

 

            3              position to tell me.  That's the finance

 

            4              chair.

 

            5                      MR. MCGOFF: -- let Mr. Hubbard

 

            6              finish.  Please let Mr. Hubbard finish.

 

            7                      MS. GATELLI: I will find out.

 

            8                      MR. HUBBARD: There are several whys

 

            9              to the questions --

 

           10                      MS. GATELLI: -- exactly what we are

 

           11              --

 

           12                      MR. HUBBARD: There are several large

 

           13              questions revolving large sum of money that

 

           14              put into the budget even though there was no

 

           15              audit when the budget was put together.  The

 

           16              money in my mind should never been

 

           17              incorporated into the budget until you had

 

           18              an audit telling you whether or not you had

 

           19              the full five million, 1.7, 1.2 or 2.2.  You

 

           20              had no idea.

 

           21                      MS. GATELLI: There is money in the

 

           22              contingency in this case there isn't,

 

           23              Daniel.

 

           24                      MR. HUBBARD: The point is --

 

           25                      MS. GATELLI: And I'm confident that


 

 

                                                                     148

 

 

            1              we are going to get it.

 

            2                      MR. HUBBARD: The point is that what

 

            3              I'm is saying that the money should not have

 

            4              been put in the budget, you could refigured

 

            5              the budge, the budget could have been done

 

            6              without plugging money in you that did not

 

            7              necessarily know you had.

 

            8                      MS. GATELLI: Well, we'll see on

 

            9              December 31.

 

           10                      MR. HUBBARD: Right or wrong, when

 

           11              the budget was drafted and it came before

 

           12              council --

 

           13                      MS. GATELLI:  No, I was confident we

 

           14              were going to get seven million.

 

           15                      MR. HUBBARD: Well, I'm confident

 

           16              about a lot of things.

 

           17                      MS. GATELLI: That's what we were

 

           18              told.

 

           19                      MR. HUBBARD: I was confident I was

 

           20              getting a flood siren.  I was also confident

 

           21              that the animal control officer were

 

           22              sanctioned by the state to go after wild

 

           23              animals and they are not.  I was also

 

           24              confident that when my neighborhood got

 

           25              flooded Mr. Parker and the DPW would repair


 

 

                                                                     149

 

 

            1              the riverbank and they never did.  I was

 

            2              confident about a lot of things in my city

 

            3              government after the 2004 flood.

 

            4                      MS. GATELLI: Well, all I can --

 

            5                      MR. HUBBARD: And unfortunately none

 

            6              of these things I had confidence in happened

 

            7              so, obviously, I started coming to meetings.

 

            8              We all have confidence in things that don't

 

            9              happen.  The point is, is that money wasn't

 

           10              there when the budget was put together, you

 

           11              did not actually have an accurate figure of

 

           12              what you had.  You were told that, you still

 

           13              passed it and you now, regardless, please, I

 

           14              don't care what Mr. Renda says because Stu

 

           15              has not been right yet, so when he is right

 

           16              at the end of the year then maybe I'll eat

 

           17              crow on that one, but right now the audit

 

           18              says you are not getting five million.

 

           19                      MS. GATELLI: Okay.

 

           20                      MR. HUBBARD: There is a hole in the

 

           21              budget.

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI:  Okay.

 

           23                      MR. HUBBARD: Right or wrong?  Was

 

           24              the audit --

 

           25                      MS. GATELLI: No, I disagree with


 

 

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            1              you.

 

            2                      MS. HUBBARD: You disagree with the

 

            3              audit?

 

            4                      MS. GATELLI:  He just gave us the

 

            5              report.  We are getting $1,052,000 from

 

            6              interest, and we are getting $2,446,000 from

 

            7              the 888 funds.

 

            8                      MR. HUBBARD: The 888 funds, that's

 

            9              not yet, they still have to go through those

 

           10              to see which ones are going to actually come

 

           11              to fruition.

 

           12                      MS. GATELLI: All right, Daniel.

 

           13              Okay, Daniel.  You are right.

 

           14                      MR. HUBBARD:  So the money is not

 

           15              actually there yet.  You are counting on the

 

           16              888 funds and yet you have no idea how much

 

           17              of that money you are going to get and he

 

           18              was very clear on that one.  He was very

 

           19              clear that the 888 funds still have to be

 

           20              gone through on an individual basis to see

 

           21              what money is there and what isn't there.

 

           22                      MS. GATELLI:  Okay.

 

           23                      MR. HUBBARD: So there is a hole in

 

           24              the budget and it needs to be plugged

 

           25              somehow, so I'm just curious as to whether


 

 

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            1              we are going to get a tax increase to fill

 

            2              the hole.

 

            3                      MS. GATELLI: No, we are not going to

 

            4              get a tax increase.

 

            5                      MR. HUBBARD: Hope not.  Thank you.

 

            6                      MR. MCGOFF: Anyone else?

 

            7                      MS. ROYCE: Hi.  Good evening.

 

            8              Bernadette Royce, West Scranton.  I have a

 

            9              quote I would like to share with you, this

 

           10              was from a speech to the International

 

           11              Association of Firefighters on March 16,

 

           12              2009.  "I have read the studies conducted by

 

           13              the US Fire Administration that found most

 

           14              fire departments, most fire department are

 

           15              unable to respond to many of the common

 

           16              emergencies with the existing staff they

 

           17              have.  I have read another study, the

 

           18              National Institute of Occupational Safety

 

           19              and Health, which I referenced to you the

 

           20              last time I spoke to you that identified,

 

           21              and I want the public to hear this, the lack

 

           22              of staffing is the key cause of firefighter

 

           23              fatality.  Lack of staffing."

 

           24                      The speak was a Scranton native, Joe

 

           25              Biden, the current vice president of the


 

 

                                                                     152

 

 

            1              United States.  So here is my rhetorical

 

            2              question for the evening, if our vice

 

            3              president things adequate staffing of fire

 

            4              departments is crucial enough that he has

 

            5              read these studies, why hasn't Chris

 

            6              Doherty?

 

            7                      Mayor Doherty's plans to close the

 

            8              fire companies endangers the lives of the

 

            9              citizens of Scranton and our firefighters.

 

           10              On the news the mayor stated that he along

 

           11              would decide the fate of the fire

 

           12              department.  He sounded like a spoiled

 

           13              petulant child would not share a toy.  As a

 

           14              citizen, I was embarrassed.

 

           15                      It is time that council intervenes

 

           16              and tells the mayor that Scranton cannot and

 

           17              will not stand idly by putting the lives of

 

           18              her citizens and firefighters at risk due to

 

           19              his animosity and continued irrational

 

           20              crusade against the firefighters.  I was

 

           21              pleased to hear that the council is going to

 

           22              ask for what reports and studies he wants

 

           23              and has ordered which to date I don't think

 

           24              he has ordered any, so I'm pleased that you

 

           25              are intervening there.  As our council, you


 

 

                                                                     153

 

 

            1              need to ensure that we do not lose our

 

            2              current level of fire protection.  Thank

 

            3              you.

 

            4                      MR. ANCHERANI: Good evening.  Nelson

 

            5              Ancherani, First Amendment Rights.  Last

 

            6              week I spoke about the pie chart and the

 

            7              2009 Scranton city budget and how all of the

 

            8              percentages of the pie slices for the

 

            9              individual departments are all inflated and

 

           10              how the differences total approximately 64

 

           11              -- I'm sorry, 24 million.

 

           12                      The amount of money budgeted for

 

           13              expenditures in the individual departments

 

           14              do not reflect the percentage listed on the

 

           15              chart.  The budgeted amount is less in each

 

           16              of the departments making the percentage

 

           17              lower.  I wonder why.  As I said, the

 

           18              difference is approximately 24 million.  It

 

           19              just happens to be the approximate amount

 

           20              that is listed in the budget as

 

           21              nondepartmental expenditures.

 

           22                      Quite the coincidence.  In previous

 

           23              years, the difference of the percentages

 

           24              quite coincidentally equal the TANS, tax

 

           25              anticipation notes.  Was anyone able to come


 

 

                                                                     154

 

 

            1              up with an explanation as to why that is?

 

            2                      The single tax audit and it's fact.

 

            3              Supposedly there is 2 million missing, lost

 

            4              through what is categorized as accounting

 

            5              errors from the 12.2 million that was found

 

            6              in the Single Tax Office.  Two million is a

 

            7              lot of money and unaccounted for.  The two

 

            8              million was discovered missing by forensic

 

            9              auditing and may never be recovered.  That

 

           10              two million was money paid into the tax

 

           11              office by us, all of the taxpayers.  We

 

           12              demand an accounting.  Can you imagine two

 

           13              million not being recoverable because of

 

           14              sloppy bookkeeping practices?

 

           15                      As I said before, because of this

 

           16              money missing and found Scranton money not

 

           17              being dispersed like it should have been

 

           18              taxpayers in the city were raised -- taxes

 

           19              in the city were raised 25 percent and we

 

           20              continue to this day to continue paying

 

           21              25 percent.

 

           22                      I never agree with any of the slimes

 

           23              editorialist, but this one time I do, and

 

           24              this is from the Times.  Editorial:

 

           25              Investigative city tax office, portrait of


 

 

                                                                     155

 

 

            1              nonchalant incompetence by former office

 

            2              administrator's.  Findings that should not

 

            3              be the last word.  Taxpayers deserve answers

 

            4              to the questions that have been raised about

 

            5              the collection and disposition of their

 

            6              money.  The two million didn't evaporate.

 

            7              Local government leaders should demand an

 

            8              accounting."

 

            9                      And the irony of this situation is

 

           10              when $200 was missing in, and I believe it

 

           11              was one of the licensing departments, a city

 

           12              hall employee faced termination and that was

 

           13              $200,000, this is $2 million.  It's not

 

           14              chump change.

 

           15                      Different note, the police got a

 

           16              raise in pay this last payday.  It was not,

 

           17              and I stress, not from the mayor.  It was

 

           18              from the courts.  Some people in our

 

           19              department had their copays raise.  Also

 

           20              without the health care committee meeting

 

           21              and verifying the rates that should be

 

           22              charged for copays.  That's a violation of

 

           23              the Court award.  One of the categories

 

           24              listed, husband and wife, went up 1,100

 

           25              percent.  1,100 percent.  Family went up


 

 

                                                                     156

 

 

            1              200 percent.  Single went up 300 percent.  I

 

            2              don't mind paying my fair share, but when

 

            3              the city won't supply the figures there is

 

            4              no way that I believe the figures that we

 

            5              are being charged or that were given.

 

            6                      Just a little note, some of our

 

            7              members since getting the payraise and the

 

            8              raise in the healthcare copays are now

 

            9              taking home less than they did when they got

 

           10              their raise and they have families.  Thank

 

           11              you.

 

           12                      MR. MARTIN: My name is Bob Martin

 

           13              and I'm a former resident of the City of

 

           14              Scranton and I live in Peckville now.  I'll

 

           15              tell you, it's been a long time since I have

 

           16              been down here, I remember the town they

 

           17              used to run the cameras, the old Scranton

 

           18              Today and what I'm concerned about is, and I

 

           19              wasn't going to speak, but I'm concerned

 

           20              about I wanted to bring up a safety of the

 

           21              police officers, and I'm honoring my

 

           22              standard and I'm concerned there is times

 

           23              when the officers stop a car and they will

 

           24              say around a traffic stop and sometimes they

 

           25              don't get the license plate number and they


 

 

                                                                     157

 

 

            1              step out of the car to check a person out,

 

            2              I'm concerned about that because of the fact

 

            3              that, number one, if you don't check your

 

            4              license plate number out first you don't

 

            5              know whether or not that's a stolen car and

 

            6              you don't know whether or not that person

 

            7              could be a problem.  I truly believe, and I

 

            8              don't know what the procedures are and I

 

            9              might be wrong in what I'm saying, but I

 

           10              know I do hear at times when they do know

 

           11              that call back the license plate number

 

           12              because vital information is on that license

 

           13              plate number whether or not it's a stolen

 

           14              car or whether or not there might be a

 

           15              situation where something might be with the

 

           16              person.  I know they need to get out and

 

           17              check their license, you know, their -- you

 

           18              get information from that for criminal

 

           19              background or whatever, but I'm concerned

 

           20              about that, and so I was just wondering if

 

           21              somebody could check that out with the

 

           22              public safety.

 

           23                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Mr. Martin, what

 

           24              they are supposed to do is when they pull a

 

           25              car over tell them, the COM Center they are


 

 

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            1              pulling them over, the location they are

 

            2              pulling them over at, run the plate and

 

            3              usually how many occupants are in the car.

 

            4                      MR. MARTIN: Yeah, I hear them do

 

            5              that, but like I said there is times when I

 

            6              used to hear them I'm just concerned that

 

            7              they should wait until they get information

 

            8              back on that license plate number before

 

            9              they step out.  Sometimes they are stepping

 

           10              out too quick to check something out and I'm

 

           11              just concerned of the safety of the police

 

           12              officers, you know, and that's why I brought

 

           13              that up.

 

           14                      And another thing I wanted to bring

 

           15              up, I want to bring praise.  I heard Judy at

 

           16              the meeting for the zoning, I'm very happy

 

           17              that Mr. Gallo did not get that tavern

 

           18              because I used to drive for Posten Taxi here

 

           19              in the city and there is one place that I

 

           20              never wanted to go to was Charlie's Bar

 

           21              because it was dangerous.  I just felt like

 

           22              there was a -- you never know what was going

 

           23              on with the drug activity and everything

 

           24              that was going on and like they were saying

 

           25              if he got the bar he was only going to be


 

 

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            1              have a restaurant, but he could have just as

 

            2              well opened up a bar in that situation.

 

            3                      Another thing I wanted to bring up,

 

            4              it's very minor, but there is a property,

 

            5              Judy, you might be familiar with it, there

 

            6              is a property up at the corner of where the

 

            7              old Gulf station used to be up there, you

 

            8              know what I'm saying?  It seems like it's

 

            9              like an eyesore.  I was just wondering why

 

           10              nobody has really done anything with that

 

           11              property, you know what I mean?  Do you

 

           12              know?

 

           13                      MS. GATELLI:  I know it's condemned,

 

           14              but I don't know --

 

           15                      MR. MARTIN: Oh, it's condemned?

 

           16                      MS. GATELLI: Yeah, it's condemned.

 

           17                      MR. MARTIN:  Finally, what I wanted

 

           18              to bring up, Bill, back many months ago they

 

           19              had a zoning hearing, I think it was

 

           20              approved, the information, the old liberty

 

           21              restaurant, I think that building was

 

           22              condemned.  I remember, I lived in Tennessee

 

           23              for three years and came back and found out

 

           24              that building was -- and somebody told me

 

           25              they were going to open a clothing store or


 

 

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            1              a coffee shop, do you know?  I know there is

 

            2              "For Rent" signs up there, but --

 

            3                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  Well, they

 

            4              renovated it to two upper floors and two big

 

            5              apartments and the first floor is going to

 

            6              be I believe a chicken fry place, take out.

 

            7                      MR. MARTIN: Oh, okay.  Okay.

 

            8                      MR. COURTRIGHT: But I don't believe

 

            9              there is going to be sitting inside because

 

           10              there is relatively no parking there.

 

           11                      MR. MARTIN: Finally, what I wanted

 

           12              to say is I talked to Sherry and I'm glad to

 

           13              meet Sherry and Judy, and I'll tell you,

 

           14              there is one thing I will never come to

 

           15              these council meetings unless I have

 

           16              something good to say.  I respect every

 

           17              single one of you up there.  It think each

 

           18              one of you is very intelligent and there is

 

           19              another thing, I wish we had a female mayor,

 

           20              you know, somebody that would run the city,

 

           21              but anyhow I talked to Sherry and I want to

 

           22              mention one thing about that I brother, I

 

           23              got some bad news about my brother, he's got

 

           24              early stages of Alzheimer's disease and I'm

 

           25              having a situation with my apartment and I


 

 

                                                                     161

 

 

            1              might be out on the street, and I won't

 

            2              mention names about somebody who said they

 

            3              might help me, but I respect that person

 

            4              that said you will not -- they would try to

 

            5              get an apartment for me, but I'm glad to be

 

            6              here and hopefully I'll be back again.

 

            7                      MR. MCGOFF: Anyone else?

 

            8                      MR. ELLMAN:  Ronnie Ellman,

 

            9              homeowner and member of the Taxpayers'

 

           10              Association.  Hello, Sherry.

 

           11                      MS. FANUCCI: Hi.

 

           12                      MR. ELLMAN: We have to quit meeting

 

           13              this way.  I have notes, I wasn't going to

 

           14              come tonight to talk, I was just sitting

 

           15              there, but the firemen got me interested.

 

           16              If you needed them like I did that night you

 

           17              wouldn't close any firehouses or take any

 

           18              trucks out of service.  I have said it

 

           19              before, they were just so professional and

 

           20              they were there in minutes, it's just ashame

 

           21              that they are treated like second class

 

           22              citizens in this city by the administration.

 

           23                      I was at the Giant market before to

 

           24              get Miss Rosie some chicken for her cat, and

 

           25              a lady was talking to me for a minute and


 

 

                                                                     162

 

 

            1              she wanted to know why I come up here and

 

            2              talk with these people and have so much

 

            3              interest in the city.  It's by choice.  I

 

            4              could have thrown my Bassett hound in the

 

            5              car ears ago and Miss Rosie and went

 

            6              anywhere in the country.  I don't have any

 

            7              obligations.  I know people, you know, like

 

            8              Los Angles and Denver or San Francisco or

 

            9              Atlanta, I could have went anywhere, I chose

 

           10              to be here because I love this town, you

 

           11              know, and I have interests in it, and it's

 

           12              just ashame sometimes you can see things

 

           13              better when you are not close, like you

 

           14              people are all too close to the city I guess

 

           15              sometimes and I see from a different

 

           16              perspective, and that's why I get up here

 

           17              sometimes and make a fool of myself probably

 

           18              because I'm not a good speaker or nothing,

 

           19              but I have a sincere interest in this city.

 

           20                      I had a $1,500 funeral or 750 cash

 

           21              in Memphis which I sold years ago because I

 

           22              wanted to stay here, be buried around here

 

           23              someplace, I don't know where right now, but

 

           24              it's -- it's just so -- just the waste that

 

           25              goes on and then the firemen and the police


 

 

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            1              just seem to take the brunt of these things.

 

            2              It's just -- I talked to more people every

 

            3              week since I quit working a few years ago

 

            4              than all five of you put together I know,

 

            5              and I know the feeling of the city.  I have

 

            6              people tell me things that just don't come

 

            7              out in the newspaper and that you people

 

            8              don't seem to be concerned with.  Every

 

            9              decision you guys make has got a tremendous

 

           10              effect on the city and the people don't just

 

           11              say the vote was 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 or

 

           12              whatever, they say council.  Council needs

 

           13              to get together more than they have been

 

           14              doing the past few years because it has a

 

           15              such an effect on the city and so far it's

 

           16              just been adverse, and the city is not in

 

           17              the shape that the administration says it

 

           18              is.  Was that my bell?  Thank you.

 

           19                      MR. SLEDENZSKI: Hello, Bill.

 

           20                      MR. COURTRIGHT: Bring it up, Chris.

 

           21                      MR. SLEDENZSKI: Hey, Judy, the new

 

           22              football coach position I heard, huh?

 

           23                      MR. GATELLI:  Yeah.

 

           24                      MR. SLEDENZSKI: I'm proud of Joe

 

           25              Garrick, I really am.  He is a good guy.


 

 

                                                                     164

 

 

            1                      MS. GATELLI: He is going to do a

 

            2              good job.

 

            3                      MR. SLEDENZSKI: I hope he does.

 

            4              Well, Bill --

 

            5                      MR. COURTRIGHT:  Where did you get

 

            6              the hat?

 

            7                      MR. SLEDENZSKI: McGoyne.

 

            8                      MR. COURTRIGHT: McGoyne gave you

 

            9              that?

 

           10                      MR. SLEDENZSKI: Yep.  Thank you.

 

           11                      MR. MCGOFF: Anyone else?  Mrs.

 

           12              Evans.

 

           13                      MS. EVANS: Good evening.  Just two

 

           14              comments before I begin what I had prepared.

 

           15              First, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Mike Murphy, who

 

           16              addressed council earlier this evening

 

           17              regarding the community garden program that

 

           18              he is hoping to institute throughout the

 

           19              city has asked me to announce that the

 

           20              meetings will be held this Friday,

 

           21              March 27th at 8:00; Saturday, March 28th at

 

           22              9:30 a.m., and Saturday April 4th at 9:30

 

           23              a.m. at Greenridge Assembly of God Church

 

           24              which is located at 825 Greenridge Street in

 

           25              Scranton.


 

 

                                                                     165

 

 

            1                      One other thing, I think, well, let

 

            2              me ask you this, does anyone know the

 

            3              definition of insanity?  I see a couple of

 

            4              hands.  What a good class.  Well, three of

 

            5              you do.  Excellent.  Well, according to I

 

            6              believe it was Einstein to continue to do

 

            7              the same action over and over and over again

 

            8              and expect a different result is the

 

            9              definition of insanity and therein lies the

 

           10              reason why I declined the chairmanship of

 

           11              the Finance Committee.  I had lead that

 

           12              committee for four years and all of my

 

           13              recommendations, warnings, suggestions fell

 

           14              on deaf ears and I must be a slow learner

 

           15              because it took me four years to figure out

 

           16              nothing was going to change, and so in 2008,

 

           17              January 2008, which incidentally was not an

 

           18              election year, I declined the chairmanship

 

           19              of that committee.

 

           20                      Now, yesterday, I met with a group

 

           21              of Matthew Avenue residents and Mr. Beasley

 

           22              of PPL regarding the PPL plan to spray

 

           23              foliage with herbicides in the right-of-way

 

           24              where electric towers are located parallel

 

           25              to Matthew Avenue.  Since spraying will not


 

 

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            1              occur until summer, PPL representatives will

 

            2              deliberate on the numerous concerns voiced

 

            3              by city residents and PPL ratepayers and a

 

            4              future meeting will be scheduled after a

 

            5              walk through of the right-of-way by the

 

            6              residents, and we do hope for a decision

 

            7              that will be satisfactory and beneficial to

 

            8              the residents of Matthew Avenue.

 

            9                      On the financial front, council

 

           10              received a copy of the 2008 independent

 

           11              audit status from Rossi & Company.  The

 

           12              auditor states that he has not received a

 

           13              revised proposed timetable for Mr. Renda who

 

           14              had earlier indicated that the March 15,

 

           15              2009, deadline for select information set by

 

           16              the auditor was not feasible for him.

 

           17              Further, responses to 11 memos had not been

 

           18              received from Mr. Renda and a response to

 

           19              audit confirmation had not been received

 

           20              from the Single Tax Office.

 

           21                      Although, Rossi & Company intended

 

           22              to issue 2008 audited financial statements

 

           23              by May 31, 2009, the date contained in the

 

           24              Home Rule Charter, it appears very likely

 

           25              that the 2008 audit will not come in on time


 

 

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            1              due to the aforementioned delays.  I do,

 

            2              however, appreciate the determination and

 

            3              efforts of Rossi & Company, but once again,

 

            4              their progress is delayed by sources beyond

 

            5              their control.

 

            6                      And as we all know, a forensic audit

 

            7              report of the Scranton Tax Office was

 

            8              released on Friday, March 20.  I was not

 

            9              present at the meeting at the stakeholders

 

           10              at which time the results were released

 

           11              because I was at work, and like Mrs. Gatelli

 

           12              my computer could not open the files

 

           13              available on-line from the tax office's

 

           14              website, thus, I received the hard copy of

 

           15              the report yesterday and I am in the process

 

           16              of reviewing it.

 

           17                      I am concerned, however, that after

 

           18              one year's time, which included an

 

           19              eight-month forensic audit, we still do not

 

           20              have concrete numbers or the total amount of

 

           21              tax dollars owed to the City of Scranton.

 

           22              Even more troubling is the approximate

 

           23              $2 million which was lost or missing through

 

           24              accounting errors, and the lack of

 

           25              accountability for those monies.


 

 

                                                                     168

 

 

            1                      Both of these findings must be

 

            2              further investigated, therefore, I would

 

            3              like to send letters to the county

 

            4              commissioners, the superintendent and board

 

            5              of directors of the Scranton School District

 

            6              and the mayor proposing that the three

 

            7              taxing bodies jointly request a state and/or

 

            8              federal investigation into the lost or

 

            9              missing, whatever the terminology may be,

 

           10              $2 million, and the lack of accountability

 

           11              for these lost monies.

 

           12                      Now, that's only half of the actions

 

           13              though that I think need to occur.  As we

 

           14              know, Mr. McDowell never appeared publically

 

           15              to provide explanations or to answer

 

           16              questions, although, city council subpoenaed

 

           17              his appearance nearly one year ago.  It

 

           18              seems clear that at best he will provide

 

           19              select written statements to the newspaper.

 

           20              Possibility the best answers we may receive

 

           21              can come from the current tax collector and

 

           22              her solicitor.  This is the people's money

 

           23              and they have the right to information and

 

           24              answers and accountability.

 

           25                      Consequently, we as a council may


 

 

                                                                     169

 

 

            1              request that Mr. Vitali and Mr. McGovern

 

            2              attend a public caucus in the coming weeks

 

            3              to answer additional questions related to

 

            4              the audit findings and recommendations, and

 

            5              this audit is of unique and critical

 

            6              importance to the city since the mayor

 

            7              plugged 5.5 million dollars of tax office

 

            8              money in his 2009 budget which I did not

 

            9              vote for.  I know that a speaker earlier

 

           10              tonight made a blanket statement about

 

           11              council approving that budget.  Well, it did

 

           12              not receive my vote, but at this moment it

 

           13              appears there may or may not be a shortfall.

 

           14                      As elected officials, however, we

 

           15              need hard numbers.  We need them in terms of

 

           16              the 2008 work in process tax payments and

 

           17              the 888 monies both pre and post 2005 which

 

           18              are owed to the City of Scranton and then in

 

           19              the event of any possible shortfall city

 

           20              officials can work toward a solution.

 

           21                      This is a not a matter that should

 

           22              be allowed to languish until budget time in